Franchise M&A Update: April 2024

Welcome back to’s “Franchise M&A Update” column. As I mentioned in our first edition, I will be covering all of the major M&A, industry rumors and bankruptcy stories in the franchise space on a monthly basis. For our first go-around, we went through allll of the Q1 2024 deals to get us caught up. From here on out, you will be getting a monthly dose!

While Q1 2024 will be most remembered for M&A within the beauty/health/wellness space, April seems to be a strong indication that we certainly won’t have a repeat champion. Folks, let me (re)introduce you to franchising’s heavyweight, Food & Beverage. What a difference a month makes! Some of the industry’s most surprising deals were announced in April 2024. If you’re looking for a recap on them all, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s get started:

Show Me The Money:

Food & Beverage:

Despite Regulatory Concerns, Subway’s Transaction To Roark Capital Finally Goes Through: We all knew this one was coming, just didn’t think it would take this long. Roark Capital is now officially the proud owner of the largest franchisor in the world! Despite some eye-popping store closure numbers recently reported, I think Roark should be able to make some hay here. Subway has a lot of opportunity to grow internationally, there is tons of potential consolidation to be done to clean up the franchise system and Subway is trending upward when it comes to their recently dire menu situation. Roark is clearly confident here, considering they did this transaction via WBS (whole-business securitization). In English, Roark believes they’ll be able to give a massive jolt to Subway’s royalty stream, and fast. If anyone can figure out how to make it work, I’d bet on the largest franchise-specific PE firm!

Tropical Smoothie Sold To Blackstone for $2B In Monumental Deal: After missing out on Jersey Mike’s for a cool $8 billion, Blackstone clearly shifted all of their weight behind another industry darling, Tropical Smoothie Café. As I wrote in a recent LinkedIn post, I really do believe this is the beginning for the world’s largest PE firm. Many knew that TSC was looking to either go public or that Levine Leichtman was looking to sell to another PE firm. Many couldn’t have predicted this would be the buyer! With Blackstone’s apparent interest in the F&B space, look out for some of franchising’s largest F&B players to be in the mix for a potential transaction to Blackstone sooner or later.

The Juice Is Loose! Clean Juice Sells To Value-Investor BRIX Holdings: Man, April certainly seems like the month for “healthy-for-you” brands! After a fairly challenging 2023, the remarkably young Clean Juice co-founder, Landon & Kat Eckles, decided to sell their business to value-investor BRIX Holdings. Brix has a massive track record in turning around brands in the “sweets and treats” space, where Clean Juice currently resides. In recent years, the brand attempted to break into more traditional breakfast and lunch options to establish more brand loyalty, the jury is still out on how that has worked. In addition to day-part changes, Clean Juice also rolled out a different supply-chain process, which is where things went a bit South for them. We’ll see how BRIX plans to turn the brand around, but recent lawsuits suggest that the sweep of recent changes didn’t jive well with franchisees. It will be up to BRIX to right-size this ship.

UK’s TGI Friday Master Franchisee Purchases Franchisor: Even though this is an M&A deal, the idea of your UK Master purchasing the franchisor feels like it should belong in the “Bad, Bad News” section to me. TGI Friday’s has been challenged by a revolving door of leadership, massive menu overhauls with each new head honcho and store closures across the system. One thing they have done well: growing internationally, which most American brands with a nostalgic bend tend to do when things in the USA start to get dicey. I’d expect the new franchisor owners to follow this international playbook to a T to get a solid return on their investment with this casual dining brand.


Beauty, Health & Wellness:

Extraordinary Brands Begins Acquisition Spree, Starts With Eat The Frog Fitness: Most of you haven’t heard of this platform before. Newsflash: you’re going to start seeing their name. A lot. Backed by Paul Flick, CEO of Premium Service Brands, Extraordinary Brands looks like it will be following a similar playbook that PSB did in the early year before Susquehanna got involved: acquire a lot of “turnaround” brands to allow the combined royalty stream to help all of the brands win. Many other platforms like WellBiz Brands, Radiance Holdings, Self Esteem Brands, Xponential Fitness and many others have platformed in this space before; curious to see what it looks like when a platform goes a little further down market within beauty, health & wellness. Extraordinary Brands hasn’t found their anchor brand just yet, so I’d keep your eyes peeled for a larger acquisition to establish themselves firmly in the space.


Commercial & Home Services:

Former ServiceMaster Portfolio Companies Form TCB Franchising, Backed By Eagle Merchant Partners: After about 3 years into ServiceMaster, Roark decided it was time to divest from Amerispec & Furniture Medic, spinning them off to Eagle Merchant Partners in April 2023. Since then, these brands are operated under the radar, waiting for a proper brand identity for them to hang their hat on. Finally, Eagle Merchant Partners established their first franchise platform when they announced the entity would be called TCB Franchising. In addition to launching a new brand from scratch (Renew Medic), TCB Franchising has brought in several legacy ServiceMaster executives to replicate their success there in a new platform. Now that they have an established platform, I will be fascinated to see if TCB starts to compete for these mid-market deals or if they will go the “start from scratch” route like ResiBrands, HorsePower Brands and now Belfor Franchise Group.

Five Star Franchising Adds Fellow Princeton Equity Group Company Card My Yard: Nothing to see here, just two Princeton Equity Group holdings coming together under one roof. Card My Yard was one of Princeton Equity Group’s first acquisitions in franchising, it only made sense for them to “sell” it to themselves by Five Star Franchising acquiring it to maximize their return in their new fund. Card My Yard has an interesting service offering that certainly will be stronger together than alone due to its seasonality. Good call by Princeton to move this one over, I think Scott Abbott & Co will grow this brand’s footprint and AUVs well.

Senior Care:

Senior Helpers Changes Hands for 4th Time, Waud Capital Partners Takes The Helm: I missed this one in Q1 2024, so I wanted to add it in here. Senior Helpers, one of the largest senior home healthcare brands in franchising, has sold for a 4th time already, this time to Waud Capital Partners from Advocate Health, the 3rd largest health system in the country. My take here: this is a simple case of a maturing brand changing hands. This space has a TON of competition and Senior Helpers is one of the crown jewels in the space. My only curiosity here: will Waud Capital Partners try to platform this similar to what Riverside has done with Best Life Brands and Evive Brands? Time will tell.

On The Franchise Trade Block:

Red Lobster Mulling Bankruptcy, Blames Rising Food Costs & Poor Menu Innovation Strategy: Another day, another potential bankruptcy due to food costs and trying to “innovate” your way out of trouble. If you think this is becoming a recurring theme, you’d be right. Red Lobster’s current owner, Thai Union, has had some STRONG feelings about the brand. I suppose I would too if the trades were saying you doomed a brand via “death by shrimp”. Not exactly the best tactic when seafood costs are at record highs, huh? Menu innovation gone wrong is going to be a major theme in 2024 and beyond, more to come on this I’m sure.

Bad, Bad News:

Tijuana Flats Files For Bankruptcy, Cites Menu Innovation Gone Wrong: So when you thought I said more to come, you probably thought it was going to be next issue, right? Hold my margarita, Tijuana Flats wanted to join the party! What caused their demise? I’ll let you take a wild guess! If you started muttering “rising food costs, COVID-related supply chain issues and poor menu management”, gold star for you. Casual dining has struggled to conform to new consumer tastes for many years. Certainly thinking this will not be the last of the bankruptcies we’ll see in the FSR space this year.




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