Jimmy John’s Sandwiches is being sold to Inspire Brands, adding a sandwich shop to the company that already owns Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic Drive-In.
Inspire Brands said it has a deal to acquire the chain that was unanimously approved by Jimmy John’s board, including founder Jimmy John Liautaud. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Liautaud will step down as chairman and become an adviser when the deal closes, Atlanta-based Inspire Brands said in a statement.
Jimmy John's has promoted its "freaky fresh" sandwiches and "freaky fast" delivery in ads for years. Its latest marketing includes a contest to give someone a house within a Jimmy John's deilvery zone, and includes the tagline "Because Sandwich," with ads from WorkInProgress. In 2018, it ran a campaign from FCB Chicago that highlighted the sandwich prep in its restaurants.
Liautaud had weighed the pros and cons of taking Jimmy John's public in the past. In a 2015 interview with Ad Age, he said he wasn't sure if he had the stomach for it. Now, in selling to Inspire Brands, which is majority owned by affiliates of Roark Capital, he has found a company that can continue to run the business out of the eye of public investors.
“Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire,” Liautaud said in the statement. “Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow sets it apart from the rest. I couldn’t be prouder of the company we’ve built, and I can’t wait to see what Jimmy John’s is able to accomplish under Inspire’s leadership.”
Inspire co-founder and CEO Paul Brown said in the statement: “Jimmy John’s is a great fit for the Inspire family. What started in 1983 as a sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois, has grown into a national, differentiated brand with a passionate fanbase. We are excited to welcome the Jimmy John’s brand to Inspire and look forward to working with their team and franchisees to help the company achieve its next stage of growth.”
Sonic was acquired by Arby's parent Inspire Brands in December and is the biggest brand in that portfolio, which also includes Buffalo Wild Wings. Sonic is the nation’s 13th largest restaurant chain, with systemwide sales up 0.9 percent to nearly $4.45 billion in 2018, according to Technomic. Jimmy John's ranked 33rd on that list, with systemwide sales up 0.7 percent to nearly $2.17 billion.
Crain's Chicago Business, with reporting by Ad Age[from https://ift.tt/2ZxNpe9]