Foodservice Equipment Reports

Chain Business: Season Of IPOs

CKE Goes Public

CKE Inc., owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands, is going public once again. The company filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 17, seeking to raise an estimated $100 million through an initial public offering.

The Carpinteria, Calif., company plans to use the IPO proceeds to repay debts and for other unnamed corporate purposes, according to a statement released by the company. The company suffered a $19.3 million loss in the fiscal year ending January 2012.  CKE has 3,243 franchised and company-operated restaurants, operating in 42 states and 25 foreign countries primarily under the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands.

CKE first became a public company in 1981. It went private in 2010 after it was purchased by Apollo Management, a private-equity firm.

Pollo Tropical Spreads Its Wings

Carrols Restaurant Group has spun off Miami-based Pollo Tropical and its other Latin-themed brands and created a new publicly traded company, Fiesta Restaurant Group. Carrols is already Burger King’s largest U.S. franchisee; it nearly doubled its size last March by buying another 278 restaurants from the burger chain. At Fiesta, the strategy focuses on the growth potential for Pollo Tropical and its Texas-based sister company, Taco Cabana.

Pollo Tropical has nearly 90 locations in Florida and Georgia, plus 32 franchise locations in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Central America and South America. This year, plans call for opening five to seven new sites. Future growth will continue in Florida and Georgia, with plans to expand to Alabama, the Carolinas and Tennessee.

Benihana Inks Deal To Go Private

Benihana Inc., operator of the nation's largest chain of Japanese theme and sushi restaurants, announced May 22 that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with a private equity group. Under the terms of the $296 million transaction, Angelo, Gordon & Co. will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Benihana's common stock. The transaction will result in Benihana becoming a private company.

Miami-based Benihana operates 95 restaurants nationwide, including 62 Benihana units, eight Haru sushi outlets and 25 RA Sushi restaurants. In addition, 16 franchised Benihana restaurants are operating in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Jack In The Box Sells 37 Locations

Jack in the Box has sold 37 company-owned locations to franchisees in the Seattle area in two deals that generated about $20 million. In April, franchise operator AJP Enterprises acquired 26 Jack in the Box restaurants; franchisee Northwest Food Management Group acquired another 11 locations.

Jack in the Box expects to sell 80 to 120 restaurants in fiscal 2012. The San Diego-based chain has been progressing toward becoming an 80% franchised brand; at the end of fiscal 2011, it was 72% franchised. The burger chain is hoping to refranchise company-operated markets in the southeast and Midwest, including Tulsa, Okla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Jack in the Box has more than 2,200 restaurants in 20 states; it also operates and franchises Qdoba Mexican Grill, which has more than 600 locations in 42 states.

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