Choice Hotels Agrees to Buy Radisson for $675M, Plus More Bold Deals – Franchise Times

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On Monday, Choice Hotels International agreed to buy Radisson Hotel Group Americas for approximately $675 million, which includes nine brands, 624 hotels and more than 68,000 rooms. This expands Choice Hotels’ footprint in the upscale and upper-midscale markets—which means more business travelers—in the Midwest and West Coast, and is part of Choice’s long-term acquisition strategy to grow in higher revenue segments. The deal will also provide new growth opportunities for Choice to increase its presence in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Choice noted its commitment to driving the success of Radisson franchisees, many of whom already have franchise agreements with Choice Hotels, and touted its loyalty program and emerging technologies that could enable franchisees to capture more business, lower hotel operating costs and reach new customers.

Los-Angeles-based private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners announced it sold Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa to funds managed by Harvest Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed. LLCP invested in Hand & Stone in 2015 and helped it grow to nearly 550 locations in the U.S. and Canada with a membership base of more than 500,000 people. This marks LLCP’s fifth successful franchising exit since the start of 2021, including the sale of Mountain Mike’s Pizza in February this year and Caring Brands International, HomeVestors and Nothing Bundt Cakes in 2021, which won LLCP a Dealmakers Award from Franchise Times. Hand & Stone signed 59 new franchise agreements last year—half of which came from within its system. Read more about Hand & Stone’s recent growth strategy here.

Item 9 Labs, a cannabis dispensary franchisor and operator, signed an agreement to buy Sessions Cannabis, one of Canada’s largest cannabis retail franchisors. This deal makes Item 9 Labs the largest global and publicly traded cannabis franchise, the company touted. Founded in 2019, Sessions has 43 stores open—mainly in retail shopping centers—throughout the province of Ontario, operated by 18 franchisees. Sessions plans to continue growing across Canada and has multiple openings planned this year. Item 9 Labs acquired Colorado-based One Cannabis Group in March 2021, the parent company to cannabis dispensary franchise Unity Rd., which planned to merge with Cannabis One Holdings but failed after regulatory hurdles. Unity Rd.’s franchise system has more than 20 partners developing more than 36 stores across about 10 U.S. states. Steven Fry, CEO and co-founder of Sessions, noted that locations that have been open for more than a year see average annual revenue of CA$2.46 million.

FAT (Fresh, Authentic, Tasty) Brands signed an agreement to acquire Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip from Crest Foods and rebrand the stores. Crest franchises about 85 cafes across the U.S., which will be rebranded to Great American Cookies. This will expand FAT’s footprint in the dessert category and will provide supply chain efficiencies and cost savings at its Atlanta-based manufacturing facility, which is a key growth initiative, according to FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn.

Ellie Mental Health is expanding access to therapy with the help of an investment from Princeton Equity Group. Princeton Equity Group also invested in International Franchise Professionals Group, a franchise consulting company with more than 1,300 members.

North Carolina entrepreneur Brent Sheena acquired fast-casual restaurant The Big Salad from CEO John Bornoty, who founded the concept in 2008. Sheena plans to quickly scale the health-conscious franchise, which has nine locations in Michigan and Texas, to 50 additional restaurants by 2025, starting with five new locations opening this year. Sheena also owns a Jamba Juice franchise in North Carolina and was attracted to The Big Salad because of its nutritious yet fast and convenient concept, which offers salads, wraps, sandwiches, soups and more.

Centre Line Partners re-acquired seafood QSR Captain D’s from Sentinel Capital Partners. There are 545 restaurants in the Captain D’s system, including 253 franchised and 292 company-owned locations in the Southeast and Midwest United States. Centre Line Partners bought Captain D’s in 2013 and sold the Nashville-based seafood chain to Sentinel in 2017. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sentinel has invested in several other restaurant franchises, including Border Foods, a leading QSR franchisee of Taco Bell; Checkers/Rally’s, the largest franchisor and operator of dual drive-thru hamburger QSRs in the U.S.; Falcon Holdings, a franchisee of Church’s Chicken; Fazoli’s Group, an Italian restaurant chain; Huddle House, a franchisor of family dining restaurants; Newk’s Eatery; Southern California Pizza Company, the largest Pizza Hut franchisee in the greater Los Angeles market; and TGI Friday’s. Read more about Captain D’s recent growth push here.

New esports franchise concept Valhallan acquired North American Esports League, with plans to expand the league domestically and internationally. With 100 total teams, NAEL is the largest youth (under 15 years old) esports league. Valhallan plans to expand NAEL’s reach across the globe, starting with the launch of the United Kingdom Esports League in the coming months. Valhallen, the NAEL, the UKEL and future leagues will combine to create Valhallan Holdings. The initial investment for a Valhallan franchise is approximately $52,950 to $201,400 in the U.S.

U.S.-based veterinary clinic Easyvet closed on a $5 million Series A-1 funding round. The capital raise was led by Unavets, an animal healthcare investment portfolio backed by Oaktree Capital Management. With 19 locations open in eight states, walk-in Easyvet clinics offer wellness exams, vaccines, parasite screenings and prevention, microchipping and more. There are 27 locations in various stages of construction development. Easyvet plans to use the capital to benefit franchisees by growing its clinical support resources, increasing its management tools, and improving technologies and the overall veterinary experience. 

Conscious Capital Growth, led by Amazing Lash Studio former CEO Heather Elrod, invested in Main Squeeze Juice Company. Main Squeeze has 26 locations open and more than 50 in development, and focuses on plant-powered cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, toasts and more. Elrod and her business partner, C-suite global franchise exec Christo Demetriades, plan to ramp up store growth by working with the family-run business and offering the wisdom and experience of a larger team, not by coming in and taking over, Demetriades noted. Conscious Capital Growth will zero in on fast- tracking sales, real estate development, training, marketing and innovation.

Franchise FastLane, an outsourced franchise sales organization, attracted a majority investment from private equity firm Southfield Capital. FastLane was founded by Ryan Zink and Carey Gille in 2017 and has awarded more than 4,000 total territories in five years spanning various industries, including residential and commercial services, fitness, child enrichment, automotive, health and wellness and business services. Zink and Gille will remain involved after the deal closes, with Gille continuing in her existing role as CEO and Zink as board adviser. Boxwood Partners provided sell-side advisory services to Franchise FastLane on the transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Wag N’ Wash Natural Pet Food & Grooming refranchised five stores in Colorado to a Pet Supplies Plus franchisee. Wag N’ Wash sold its previously corporate-owned locations in Castle Rock, Littleton and three in Colorado Springs to Finnegan Dexter. Founded in 2018 and based in Lakeland, Florida, Finnegan Dexter is a seasoned pet-retail franchisee and owns and operates nine Pet Supplies Plus stores in Florida, plus one more in development. PSP bought Wag N’ Wash earlier this year in its first acquisition after being acquired by Franchise Group in 2021.  

Benetrends bought DCV Franchise Group, which provides access and guidance for all SBA-backed and traditional lending products. Benetrends said this deal makes it the largest and most comprehensive SBA team in the franchising industry specializing in rollover as business start-ups funding. Founded in 2004, DCV combines personal guidance, in-house qualification and executive-level business development to identify financing solutions. DCV has placed more than $3 billion in SBA financing on behalf of its clients over the past 20 years.

Advised by Unbridled Capital, Pacific Bells bought eight more Taco Bell restaurants in Ohio from Sigma Bells.

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