Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings new parent Inspire Brands debuts

Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings new parent Inspire Brands debuts

Operator spans three segments and plans global growth

The foodservice industry’s latest multi-concept operator was born on Monday as Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. completed a $2.9 billion acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. and renamed itself Inspire Brands Inc.

Inspire Brands is owned by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group. It operates more than 1,700 restaurants and franchises more than 2,900 units as Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as R Taco, formerly known as Rusty Taco, a Mexican street-food concept with 26 locations that Buffalo Wild Wings acquired in 2014. Annual systemwide sales of the three brands exceeded $7.6 billion in 2017, the parent company said.

Inspire Brands is led by Paul Brown, who was Arby’s CEO before he took on the role as CEO of the whole group.

“We believe the time is right to create a different kind of restaurant company — one with a broad portfolio of distinct brands across a full spectrum of restaurant occasions,” Brown said in a release. “Our goal is to build an organization that leverages the benefits of scale, not only to save cost, but also to enable outsized investments in long-term growth initiatives.”

The three brands each occupy distinct segments: Arby’s in quick service, R Taco in fast casual and Buffalo Wild Wings in casual dining.

The release said Inspire aims “to build a family of powerful, distinct restaurant brands that each have high-growth potential, both domestically and internationally. The Inspire organization is designed to enable each individual brand to benefit from and build off the strengths of the others.”

Brown added: “Our family of brands are iconic within their restaurant segments and have succeeded with the help of a strong franchise base, differentiated marketing and, most importantly, delicious food. I’m looking forward to accelerating their growth under our new model.” 

Arby’s announced plans to acquire Buffalo Wild Wings in November 2017. Buffalo Wild Wings shareholders approved the deal on Friday, pricing the company’s shares at $157.

Buffalo Wild Wings had been struggling for some time and estimated a same-store sales decrease of 1.6-1.7 percent for the 2017 fiscal year.

By contrast, Arby’s, has made a dramatic turnaround since Roark acquired the chain in 2011, reporting more than 20 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. In 2016, for the first time since 2008, it reported a net increase in unit count.

Inspire Brands will be based in Atlanta, but it will retain a support center in Minneapolis, where Buffalo Wild Wings was formerly headquartered.   

Roark Capital Group also owns CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc. (parent of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.), Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q and Focus Brands Inc. (franchisor of Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s).

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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