Jamba co-founder acquires 8 stores

EMERYVILLE Calif. Jamba Juice’s ongoing refranchising plan has tapped into the smoothie chain’s roots with the announcement Thursday that one of the brand's original partners has acquired eight units in California.

Linda Olds, one of the four co-founders of Jamba Juice, has agreed to acquire the eight locations with her husband, Jeff Olds, and a minority partner, Brett Thomas, a former district manager of the company.

Terms were not disclosed. Following completion of the deal, Olds’ franchise operation Four Life Foods LLC, based in Arroyo Grande, Calif., will operate nine Jamba Juice units — including the original location in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Jamba Juice began in 1990 as Juice Club, a smoothie operation created by co-founder Kirk Perron along with Olds — who went on to become vice president of marketing — as well as Joe Vergara and Kevin Peters.

In 1995, the partners changed the concept’s name to Jamba Juice. The company went public in 2006, following a reverse merger with public shell company Services Acquisition Corp. valued at $265 million.

Linda and Jeff Olds, meanwhile, owned 10 stores as a franchisee with Four Life Foods along with Vergara and his wife. Vergara later left the franchise operation, and they sold all of the units to Jamba Inc. in 2007.

The Oldses bought another location in Santa Maria, Calif., last year, and most recently added the eight in California, including four stores in Bakersfield, two in San Luis Obispo, one in Arroyo Grande and one in Paso Robles.

“We cannot express the excitement and pride we feel to be involved with our community where the Jamba journey began twenty years ago,” Linda Olds said. “Jeff and I have always had a passion for the brand, and we feel it is the perfect time to further our investment with the company.”

So far this year, parent company Jamba Inc., based in Emeryville, Calif., has sold 19 units to existing franchisees in Arizona and Oregon.

The 742-unit chain now includes 488 corporate and 254 franchised locations.

The refranchising plan is part of an overall turnaround effort by Jamba, which has pledged to eliminate $25 million in store-level costs this year.

Battling against slowing sales [3] and the weakened economic environment, the chain earlier this year launched a new food lineup [4], which it has been rolling out to various markets over the course of the year. Items include grab-and-go wrap sandwiches, flatbreads and salads.

The company is also expanding brand licensing opportunities with the planned launch of new novelty ice cream products under the Jamba Juice brand, as well as ready-to-drink beverages and a home smoothie kit.

Earlier this year, the company sold $35 million in convertible preferred stock, which helped reduce debt. Investors included the family that owns the Ontario, Canada-based Yogen Fruz frozen yogurt and smoothie chain, as well as New York-based private-equity firm Mistral Equity Partners.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [5].