Private investment firm High Bluff Capital Partners has closed on a purchase of QCE LLC, parent to the Quiznos toasted sandwich chain, the company said Monday.
The Denver-based fast-casual brand said Susan Lintonsmith would continue as CEO and president under ownership by the San Diego, Calif.-based investment firm. Terms were not disclosed.
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in the past few years,” said Lintonsmith, who was named CEO in 2016 after serving four years as the chain’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.
“I’m excited about the future with High Bluff Capital Partners, and the level of experience and commitment they bring to Quiznos,” Lintonsmith said. “I believe this is the infusion we need to take the brand to the next level.”
Quiznos, which was founded in Denver in 1981, has about 800 locations in 32 countries.
Although Quiznos’ net U.S. unit losses have gotten smaller in each of the past several years, the company still closed more than 100 units in fiscal 2017, which represents nearly a quarter of the brand's units just a year earlier.
Quiznos emerged from bankruptcy in 2014 following a restructuring and controlling interest was held by a group of private-equity investors, including Oaktree Capital Management, Fortress Investment Group, Caspian Capital Advisors, MSD Capital LP and others.
According to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 research, Quiznos had 367 domestic units as of the December-ended fiscal 2017, down from 479 in the Preceding Year. U.S. systemwide sales fell to $148.8 million in fiscal 2017, down from $195.2 million in the Preceeding Year.
High Bluff Capital Partners specializes in the acquisition of consumer-facing brands and companies that present transformation opportunities, the company said in a press release.
“Quiznos is an iconic brand with strong awareness and attractive upside in the sandwich segment,” said Gerry Lopez, operating partner for High Bluff Capital Partners and executive chairman of the new company that will operate the Quiznos brand.
“We are excited about the acquisition,” Lopez said. “We have the commitment, industry knowledge and flexible capital to build on recent successes and drive future, sustainable growth.”
Shaun Klein at the Dentons law firm served as adviser to High Bluff Capital Partners. Holland & Hart LLP served as legal and Brookwood Associates as merger and acquisition advisers to QCE LLC.
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