As savvy franchise companies continue to flourish in this challenging economy, FUSR will continue to bring you good news each month, highlighting brands that are adding units, increasing comp store sales, striking deals with investors, and continuing to grow despite the economy - maybe even because of it. And, as the U.S. struggles through its "jobless recovery," growth-oriented franchisors continue to look overseas for expansion opportunities. To be considered for next month's Winner's Column, please send your Good News to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamba Juice franchisee Creative Food Group will open four new nontraditional store locations in New York City and Northern New Jersey this year. Altaf Isani is president and CEO of Creative Food Group, which has 20 stores operating at train and bus terminals, airports, and shopping malls. "As we continue to grow our franchise locations, nontraditional outlets such as these four stores will play a key role in our strategy," said Thibault de Chatellus, Jamba's senior vice president, global franchise and development. Jamba expects to add up to 50 new franchise locations and refranchise up to 150 company-owned units, primarily outside of California, by year-end. Founded in 1990, Jamba Juice had 739 locations at the end of 2009, 478 company-owned and 261 franchised.
Pizza Inn has opened its newest restaurant in Hattiesburg, Miss., featuring a buffet, full menu, delivery, and carryout with a pick-up window. The new restaurant is owned and operated by 30-year franchise veteran Bob Singh of Greenwood, who owns five other Pizza Inn restaurants (in Collins, Greenwood, Grenada, and Monticello, Miss., and in Franklinton, La.). Singh is the brand's area developer for all of Mississippi and Franklinton. With 18 restaurants now open in Mississippi, Pizza Inn continues to target the state as part of its growth and revitalization plan. Founded in 1958 and based in The Colony, Tex., Pizza Inn is a publicly traded company with about 310 franchised restaurants and 3 corporate units.
Roark Capital Group, through its portfolio company Pet Valu Canada, has acquired Bosley's Pet Food Plus, a small-format specialty retailer of pet food and supplies. The transaction is Pet Valu's first add-on acquisition since being taken private by Roark in August 2009. Bosley's, with 23 stores in and around Vancouver, is the leading independent pet retail chain in British Columbia and will continue to operate under its own name. Founded in 1976 and based in Markham, Ont., Pet Valu is Canada's largest small-format specialty retailer and wholesale distributor of pet food and supplies, with 296 corporate and franchised stores in Ontario and Manitoba, and 61 stores in the U.S. Roark Capital Group is an Atlanta-based private equity firm that specializes in business and consumer service companies. The purchase marks Roark's sixth acquisition in the past six months.
After opening more than 30 locations within 18 months, and with deals signed to double its presence by year-end, Complete Nutrition executives say the company is on track to reach 100 franchised units. Founded in Omaha in 2004, Complete Nutrition is a network of 35 upscale nutritional supplement retail stores selling weight loss and sports nutrition products. Staff members are athletes, certified personal trainers, former strength coaches, and people experienced in health and fitness.
The Dwyer Group has begun awarding franchises for its newest concept, The Grounds Guys, a grounds care concept and the company's seventh brand. The Grounds Guys, which specializes in commercial and high-end residential landscape management services, is targeting two groups: 1) existing landscape management contractors who want to expand their services and businesses and take advantage of a national brand; and 2) business-savvy executives and individuals looking for a new career opportunity as a franchise owner. The brand has a $26,000 franchise fee. Robert Tunmire, The Dwyer Group's executive vice president, is leading the effort with a team of three franchise developers. Based in Waco, Tex., The Dwyer Group is a holding company of seven franchise brands: Aire Serv, Glass Doctor, The Grounds Guys, Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric, Mr. Rooter (Drain Doctor in the U.K. and Portugal), and Rainbow International.
The Dwyer Group announced that it has awarded more than $1 million in discounts to military veterans who own a franchise through the VetFran program. Established after the Gulf War by company founder, the late Don Dwyer, Sr., the program gives U.S. military veterans a discount toward the purchase of a franchise. The Dwyer Group reintroduced the program after 9/11 and has since helped 186 men and women own their own business across their franchise brands. "Providing careers for veterans has been the best way to honor the men and women of our U.S. armed forces for the service they have given to our country," said Dina Dwyer-Owens, chair and CEO of The Dwyer Group. "My father would be very proud of the opportunities that have been created in our franchise family to help them transition to civilian life as business owners." Today the IFA is the official sponsor of VetFran, which includes more than 400 franchisors; more than 1,500 veterans own a franchise through the program.
Mathnasium Learning Centers has announced further reductions in its franchise fee for former military personnel through the IFA's VetFran program. Mathnasium, which had offered a $2,500 discount, now offers 50 percent off its $24,500 franchise fee to honorably discharged veterans. Mathnasium has been involved with VetFran since last November. Franchising since 2003, Mathnasium has more than 200 franchises worldwide, with a new one opening approximately every week.
Will Lawrence, a Play N Trade franchisee who opened his first store in Front Royal, Va., in July 2008, is planning to open his second in Warrenton, Va., in June. Lawrence, a lifetime gamer who began his career in finance and wanted to do something he was passionate about, already has plans for a third Play N Trade.
Elevation Burger has signed a multi-unit deal for Los Angeles with entrepreneur family Gene and Mary Hendifar and brothers Paul and Jason Hendifar. The Hendifar family has been involved in the restaurant business for more than 30 years and are experienced multi-unit chain operators. The brand, which offers organic burgers and fresh cut fries cooked in olive oil, has seven locations open. All are franchised except for the original site in Falls Church, Va. Elevation expects to have a total of 15 to 20 restaurants (3 company-owned) operating by year-end, with a total of more than 60 new restaurants in development. Upcoming openings include units in and around Washington, D.C., New York City, Dallas, and Philadelphia. At its current growth rate, the brand predicts 100 U.S. locations by the end of 2013. Fransmart is leading the franchise development plans. Elevation was founded by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Hans and April Hess in 2005 and began franchising in 2008.
Dunkin' Donuts has signed agreements with three franchisees to develop 17 new restaurants in South Florida and Jacksonville. MMM Franchising Group has signed to develop 10 units in the Northeast Dade, Doral-Hialeah, and South Miami regions of Miami-Dade County, with the first opening in 2011 and the rest by 2017; Marc Weinstein, operating partner, will oversee all aspects of development. S. Gordon Restaurant Group LLC, headed by Stanley and Lenore Gordon, will open five units in Southeast Palm Beach County and Southwest Broward County; the first is scheduled to open in 2011 and the rest by 2016. Existing franchisee John Griffey will open two units in Jacksonville, one in 2012 and one in 2013. "The Sunshine State is a priority growth market for Dunkin' Donuts in 2010," said Grant Benson, vice president of franchising and market planning at Dunkin'. The brand recently added 6 nontraditional locations along the Florida Turnpike travel plazas, in addition to opening 13 locations at airports and 5 at universities in the state. Founded in 1950 and based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin' has more than 9,000 restaurants in 30 countries. Global system-wide sales in 2009 were $5.7 billion.
Existing franchisee Tom Sottile has signed to open five new Dunkin' Donuts in Savannah, Ga. One will open by year-end, and the remainder by 2015. Sottile, with nearly 30 years in the foodservice business, was involved in the development of nine Dunkin' units in Charleston and has served on national Dunkin' committees as well as being a member of the Dunkin' Regional Advisory Council. Dunkin' is seeking new and existing franchisees to develop in Georgia, including in Metro Atlanta, Albany, and Columbus.
Right at Home announced record system-wide revenue of more than $136 million in 2009, a 24 percent increase over its record 2008 revenue. In 2009, the franchisor opened 46 new franchises in the U.S. and signed agreements to open its first franchises in the U.K. and Brazil, and is on track to reach its projection to open 50 new locations this year. Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companion and personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Based in Omaha, the brand has 185 offices in 40 states, the U.K., and Brazil.
Villa Enterprises Management, a multi-concept restaurant franchisor, opened its first Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen at Newark Liberty International Airport's Terminal A, which serves more than 8 million passengers annually. The new multi-concept store, which includes the company's Casa Java brand, is the fourth QSR location in the terminal for the franchisor; the company now has 30 domestic and international locations at 19 airports. Founded by Naples, Italy, by native Michele Scotto in 1964 as a tiny pizzeria next to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, Villa Enterprises now has more than 300 QSR locations in 38 states and 6 countries. In addition to its flagship brand, Villa Pizza, the Morristown, N.J.-based franchisor has four other QSR brands: Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, Green Leaf's, Banana's, and South Philly Steak & Fries.
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