Roark Capital Group has been building FOCUS Brands Inc., a parent company to several well-known brand-name consumer companies, for more than ten years now. It stands to reason that executives at the Atlanta-based private equity firm are exploring ways to exit the company, either in one shot or by selling off the brands piecemeal.
FOCUS Brands is a franchisor and operator of more than 3,300 ice cream stores, bakery restaurants and cafes in the United States, Puerto Rico and 50 countries, according to the company’s Web site. It’s brands include pretzel-maker Auntie Anne’s, cinnamon bun-maker Cinnabon, ice cream-maker Carvel, Mexican fast-food chain Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s deli chain.
The oldest investment in the FOCUS Brands portfolio is Carvel, which the company bought back in 2001 in a $48 million deal.In 2004, FOCUS Brands began its buying spree, buying Seattle’s Best Coffee, a competitor to Starbucks, and Cinnabon. In 2006 the company bought Schlotzsky’s; in 2007, Moe’s Southwest; and in 2010, Auntie Anne’s.
It’s unclear from what funds Roark Capital invested in FOCUS Brands, and Managing Partner and firm founder Neal Aronson did not return requests for comment. Roark has already made back its $30 million investment in the company, according to marketing materials for tis latest fund, and company has generated a gross return multiple of 6.3x and a 25 percent gross internal rate of return taking into account unrealized gains.
Roark Capital is also making headway in raising its third fund. The firm had raised $462 million so far, Buyouts reported in April, with backing from respected investors including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Harvard Management Co. and Princeton University. The firm is trying to raise a total of $1.25 billion for the fund.
Meanwhile, some of the company’s brands continue to expand. Schlotzsky’s, for example, plans to open 61 locations in California, Arizona and Minnesota, according to an April report by the Austin Business Journal Online.