Wendy’s/Arby’s Group completed the $430 million sale of a majority interest in Arby’s Restaurant Group to Roark Capital Group Monday, and changed its name to The Wendy’s Company.
Company executives say the sale will allow them to focus solely on the revitalization of the Wendy’s brand.
The Wendy’s Company, which will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WEN, retains an 18.5-percent stake in Arby’s Restaurant Group, allowing it to participate in any upside to be realized from Roark’s efforts to turn that brand around.
“We believe in Arby’s turnaround and look forward to being able to benefit from the brand’s future success,” said Roland Smith, president and chief executive of The Wendy’s Company.
With the sale of Arby’s to Roark completed, Wendy’s now will focus on its major brand initiatives, including product innovation, domestic-store remodels, expansion into breakfast and other dayparts, and growing its international system to as many as 8,000 locations, Smith said.
“Our new corporate name and logo signal our commitment to the Wendy’s brand following the sale of Arby’s,” Smith said. “We’ve incorporated the original Wendy cameo into our new company logo, and we’re highlighting a phrase that’s been a defining point of difference for Wendy’s for more than 40 years: ‘Quality is Our Recipe.’ We’ve added the phrase ‘worldwide’ to our tagline to emphasize Wendy’s global aspirations.”
The Wendy’s/Arby’s Group was formed in September 2008 when Wendy’s International merged with Triarc Cos., which was led by activist investor Nelson Peltz and at the time was the parent company to Arby’s Restaurant Group. During their more than two years as sister companies, Wendy’s and especially Arby’s struggled to maintain positive same-store sales as the recession cut into their traffic.
However, at the time that Wendy’s/Arby’s Group said in January that it would explore strategic alternatives for Arby’s, including the sale of the brand, company executives and investors said Wendy’s already had achieved many of the goals it laid out at the start of the merger, such as improving restaurant-level margins.
The move to sell Arby’s was seen widely as the way for Wendy’s to sharpen its focus on Wendy’s and fund initiatives like breakfast and international expansion.
Last month, Wendy’s opened its first restaurants in Russia. It also re-entered Japan this year and announced plans to grow a large portion of its international system in Brazil and China.
Its menu development pipeline continues to turn out new items as well, most recently the Berry Almond Chicken Salad and a test of breakfast that should be in place at 1,000 restaurants by the end of the year.
The company currently is searching for a permanent replacement to departed chief marketing officer Ken Calwell, who left the brand in June to become president of Papa Murphy’s International. In the interim, president David Karam is leading marketing and menu research and development.
Bob Bertini, spokesman for The Wendy’s Company, said the company has not determined yet whether its headquarters will remain in Atlanta or consolidate with Wendy’s International’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio.
“We plan to have offices in Ohio and Georgia, but we are still finalizing our personnel and headquarters plans,” Bertini wrote in an e-mail. “Most former Wendy’s/Arby’s Group employees in Atlanta are continuing to provide shared-services support for both brands for at least 90 days as part of a transition plan.”
Wendy’s system encompasses more than 6,500 corporate and franchised quick-service restaurants in the United States and 25 foreign countries.