Private equity firm FFL Partners has agreed to sell the 1,500-unit Church’s Chicken chain to High Bluff Capital Partners and other supporting investment funds, the companies said Monday.
Terms of the deal, which is expected to close during the third quarter, were not disclosed.
FFL Partners has been shopping the brand for some time. Under the agreement, the Atlanta-based quick-service brand will be operated by REGO Restaurant Group, the platform High Bluff Capital Partners created in 2018 to acquire Quiznos and Taco Del Mar.
Founded in 1952 and operating in 26 countries and international territories, Church’s is known for its hand-battered and double-breaded fried chicken and Tender Strips, along with Honey-Butter Biscuits made in house. The chain emerged successfully from the pandemic by leveraging its strength in family meals, digital offerings, delivery and to-go sales.
Church’s, which is called Texas Chicken outside the Americas, generated systemwide sales of nearly $1.2 billion in 2020, the company said.
Over the next year, the plan is to expand Church’s unit count by opening more than 100 new locations, including the roll-out of its new Blaze Image restaurants.
“At a time when the entire restaurant industry has faced unprecedented challenges, Church’s has stood out as a notable bright spot, having emerged from the pandemic with considerable tailwinds that strongly position the brand for tremendous growth geographically as well as in the overall chicken category,” said Anand Gowda, founder of High Bluff Capital Partners and the former president and managing partner of Metropoulos & Co., in a statement.
“Our investment strategy continues to center on identifying brands with long-term connections with consumers that can be energized and propelled to greater success through targeted industry expertise, operational efficiencies, innovation and creative brand management,” Gowda added. “Church’s fits squarely within this wheelhouse. We look forward to leveraging our robust platform and working closely with the management team and franchisees to accelerate Church’s positive trajectory.”
The San Diego-based High Bluff is joined in the Church’s acquisition by various alternative investment funds managed by asset management firm FS Investments.
Moelis & Company LLC served as advisory to High Bluff and FS Investments, and exclusive placement agent to High Bluff; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Dentons US LLP served as legal advisors to High Bluff and REGO; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP was legal advisor to FS Investments.
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