Roark Capital Group acquires Wingstop

RICHARDSON Texas Wingstop Restaurants Inc., the parent to the 440-unit chicken-wing chain, has been acquired by an affiliate of private-equity firm Roark Capital Group, the companies said Monday.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, was announced at Wingstop's franchisee convention in Las Vegas. Roark Capital, which is based in Atlanta and specializes in franchised concepts, has a portfolio that includes such restaurant brands as Carvel, Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s.

The acquisition buys out Gemini Investors LLC of Wellesley, Mass., and another private investor who had bought a controlling stake in Wingstop in 2003 and owned about 64 percent of the company.

James Flynn, Wingstop’s chief executive, told NRN that Roark’s expertise in franchising should help Wingstop ratchet up its growth.

“These are guys who have spent years in the restaurant industry and can have significant input into our expansion and profits,” he said.

Wingstop, founded in 1994, said it booked more than $300 million in systemwide sales in 2009. It has 440 restaurants in 34 states and Mexico and plans to open an additional 60 locations this year.

Flynn, who joined Wingstop in 2003, and the senior management team will remain in their current roles.

He said discussions with Roark have included the possibility of co-branding Wingstop with other Roark brands, which the company has begun in the past year with Cinnabon and Schlotzsky’s.

“We don’t have any specific or definite plans on co-branding,” Flynn said, “but I suspect that because Roark has so many brands that might be something we at least discuss.”

With the Wingstop deal, Roark has now acquired 17 multi-unit brands that have about 3,000 franchisees and more than $4 billion in systemwide sales. Besides the foodservice companies, it owns Money Mailer, Fast Signs, Batteries Plus, Primrose Schools and Pet Valu.

Steve Romaniello, Roark’s managing director, said in a statement: “With 27 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales, Wingstop is a clear leader in its category.”

EARLIER: Romaniello pictures more deals in Roark’s future [3]

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] [4].