Focus Brands’ biggest franchisee is about to get a whole lot bigger.
Miami-based Fresh Dining Concepts, which has approximately 160 Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon and Jamba locations in 17 states and Washington, D.C., received a $44 million capital injection from Franchise Equity Partners, a relatively new private investment that seeks to provide finance to growing franchise businesses. True to the philosophy of the company, the investment of several million dollars is a minority and permanent participation.
The $44 million will be used to pursue mergers and acquisitions and complete the development of new stores.
“This new financing is a major step in the pursuit of our aggressive growth strategy. Over the past year, we have continued with our plans and added over 100 units to our portfolio. We feel that the Franchise Equity Partners team and our organization share much of the same perspective, making them a perfect match,” Fresh Dining Concepts CEO Luis San Miguel said in a statement. . “The new line of financing provides a pathway to build our collection of franchises with additional high-performing concepts, while diversifying even further.”
Since April 2021, Fresh Dining Concepts has grown from 50 to 160 locations primarily through six acquisitions, including the purchase of 73 Auntie Anne’s units on the West Coast and nine Auntie Anne’s stores in the Washington, DC market. In terms of organic development, in late 2021 the operator agreed to develop 10 co-branded Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon locations in New York over the next four years. Most recently, he opened an Auntie Anne’s/Jamba co-brand restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida, and launched a Long Island-based Cinnabon location. The operator has a presence in a dozen DMAs on the East Coast, Midwest, West Coast and Texas, and its stores are based in outlets, malls and other non-traditional environments, as well as shopping malls online.
Franchise Equity Partners announced its official launch in November, with aspirations of a $1 billion portfolio. The firm is led by co-founders and managing partners Michael Esposito and Scott Romanoff, who both spent nearly 30 years at Goldman Sachs in the investment banking division. In addition to restaurant chains, the company is looking to partner with automotive dealerships, beverage distribution, consumer and business services, and heavy equipment dealerships. Each investment will be between 20% and 49.9%.
Fresh Dining Concepts is Franchise Equity Partners’ second investment since its launch last year.
“Our goal at Franchise Equity Partners is to identify the best of the best in franchise owner-operators, and Fresh Dining Concepts hits the mark,” Esposito said in a statement. “Luis and his team have been able to build an excellent portfolio and we are delighted to partner with them to continue to develop Fresh Dining Concepts.”