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Chicken Salad Chick 700 dpi.jpg Chicken Salad Chick

Brentwood buys majority stake in Chicken Salad Chick parent

Private-equity firm buys interest from Eagle Merchant Partners

The Brentwood Associates private-equity firm has acquired a majority interest in SSRG Holdings LLC, owner of the Chicken Salad Chick brand, the companies said Monday.

Los Angeles-based Brentwood and Atlanta-based Eagle Merchant Partners said terms of the deal were confidential.

“We are very excited to partner with Brentwood on the next chapter for Chicken Salad Chick,” said Scott Deviney, CEO of SSRG Holdings, in a statement. “Brentwood’s long track record of working with leading restaurant companies coupled with their understanding of our business objectives and strategy make them the perfect partner for us to continue executing on our robust growth and expansion plan.”

Deviney will continue as CEO, the companies said.

Fast-casual Chicken Salad Chick has 137 locations in 16 states, mostly in the Southeast. The brand was founded in 2008 by Stacy and Kevin Brown when they opened the first restaurant in Auburn, Ala. Eagle Merchant Partners made an investment in the company in 2015.

The brand features a dozen chicken salad preparations served by the scoop, sandwich or bowl. The menu also has versions of pimento cheese and egg salad.

Rahul Aggarwal, partner at Brentwood, said: “Chicken Salad Chick’s model fits well within our strategy of investing in high-growth, best-in-class consumer businesses. We look forward to working with Scott and the Chicken Salad Chick team to build upon their success in the markets they serve."

Stockton Croft, partner at Eagle Merchant Partners, added, “We are extremely proud of Chicken Salad Chick’s achievements during our ownership, which resulted in a seven-fold increase in system sales and over 100 new restaurants.”

In Nation’s Restaurant News research for 15 Brands to Watch, Chicken Salad Chick reported average annual sales of $1.15 million in fiscal 2018 and $110 million in systemwide U.S. sales, up 44% from fiscal 2017. The company reported two-year sales growth of 102.6% and two-year unit growth of 62.5%.

Chicken Salad Chick was also named an NRN Breakout Brand in 2015, when it had 29 units in six states.

Brentwood holds investments in such foodservice brands as Blaze Pizza, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, Pacific Catch Westcoast Fish House and Veggie Grill.

Brentwood reported fiscal 2018 U.S. foodservice revenue of $243.6 million, up 45.4% from fiscal 2017's $167.5 million, with that growth primarily the result of high sales growth at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar and a full year of sales from Upward Projects, which the private equity company acquired late in fiscal 2017. Upward Projects includes Postino WineCafé, Joyride Taco House, Windsor, Churn and Federal Pizza.

North Point Advisors LLC advised Chicken Salad Chick on the transaction and King & Spalding LLP provided legal counsel. Brentwood was represented by Burr & Forman LLP.

Alan Liddle, Nation’s Restaurant News data and events editor, contributed to this report.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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