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Under new owners, Papa John’s franchisee eyes growth plan

BIRMINGHAM Ala. The largest franchisee of Papa John’s International Inc. is planning to expand after a management-led buyout late last year.

The Halifax Group, a private-equity firm in Washington, D.C., and the management of PJ United Inc. here completed the buyout last November. PJ United operates 116 Papa John’s units in six states.

Terms of the buyout were not disclosed, but more than $30 million in financing was provided by GE Capital Solutions, Franchise Finance of Scottsdale, Ariz. Other financing was provided by Merrill Lynch Capital.

PJ United has stores in Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Douglas S. Stephens, founder and chief executive of PJ United, retains an equity stake in the company, which was founded in 1991.

"We believe that the market for our high-quality pizza products and delivery services offers attractive growth potential and that Halifax will enhance PJ United’s ability to take advantage of these opportunities," Stephens said. "Working with Halifax, we will pursue a strategy not only to expand in existing markets but also, to acquire and expand in contiguous markets as well.”

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