July 14, 2009 // Franchising.com // Atlanta, GA – Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm that owns 14 franchise companies with collectively more than $3 billion in system-wide revenues, announced today that Cinnabon, Inc. President Geoff Hill will join Roark Capital as Vice President, effective January 1, 2010.
Hill will assist newly named Cinnabon President Gary Bales during a transition period until the end of the year, when he will assume full time duties at Roark. Bales currently serves as President of Carvel, and will ultimately serve over both brands. Carvel and Cinnabon are both in the FOCUS Brands group, owned by Roark Capital.
At Roark, Hill will be responsible for helping find new investment opportunities in franchising as well as assisting the management teams of the current franchise portfolio companies in operations and best practices.
"Geoff is an accomplished franchise executive who brings a wealth of experience, passion and enthusiasm to Roark," said Roark Capital Founder/Managing Partner Neal Aronson. "Our portfolio companies will benefit tremendously from his skills in franchise development, brand building and operations."
Roark closed on its current $1 billion institutional fund early last year, and is actively seeking opportunities to deploy this capital. So far, the fund has made two investments: Primrose Schools, the country's leader in early childhood education with 205 schools in 16 states, and Simply Floored, a shop-at–home service for flooring and energy efficient insulation. In addition, Roark recently announced an agreement to acquire Pet Valu, a leading Canadian small-format specialty retailer and distributor of pet food and supplies. Pet Valu will be Roark's 15th franchise investment.
Roark Capital Group's management team has a collective 100 years of operating and investment experience in franchising. Hill's addition to the team further strengthens Roark's niche as the franchise industry's leading specialty private equity firm.
"Growing franchise systems and building franchise brands is my passion," Hill said. "At Roark, I'll have the chance to work with multiple franchise brands, driving growth at companies we already own, while working with the management team to expand the Roark portfolio. Combine that with the opportunity to work with people I've known and trusted for years, and for me, it's the best of all worlds."
Named President of Cinnabon in November 2006, Hill also served as Senior Vice President, Development and Sales of FOCUS Brands Inc. . A graduate of Cornell's Hotel Management Program, he spent multiple years in operations with the Bristol Hotel Company, one of the largest and most respected hotel operators in the US, and became the youngest general manager in the history of the company.
During his tenure at Carvel and FOCUS Brands, Hill was instrumental in growing the brands to their highest year-over-year levels, and continuously took on more responsibility beyond franchise sales, including real estate, design & construction, franchise administration, and operations. He developed a national sales force from the ground up, and signed franchise agreements for more new stores in the 16 months following his hire than were signed in the 10 years prior to his arrival at Carvel.
"I'm excited to join Roark, but I certainly will miss the expertise, talent, and passion of the FOCUS Brands Associates and our tremendous Franchisees," Hill said. "With Gary (Bales) taking over my presidency, I know I'm leaving the Cinnabon brand in great hands. He will do a fantastic job overseeing the many significant brand-changing initiatives that will be launched in early 2010."
Hill has a 14-year history in working with both Aronson and Steve Romaniello, a Managing Director who specializes in franchising at Roark Capital. Over the years, the trio worked together on several business ventures in franchising, including U.S. Franchise Systems, where they helped build and eventually sell one of the fastest growing multi-brand franchisors in the lodging industry. Later, as Aronson formed Roark Capital, Hill and Romaniello joined Carvel, laying the foundation for the strategic turnaround of the iconic ice cream brand and the eventual formation of FOCUS Brands, a multi brand franchisor. Romaniello later joined Roark Capital and now is working actively with the management teams of the firm's franchise companies to help them achieve their goals and to share best practices, as well as seeking new investment opportunities.
Roark Capital Group is an Atlanta-based private equity firm that specializes in business and consumer service companies with attractive growth prospects and revenues ranging from $20 million to $1 billion. Roark Capital has previously acquired 14 franchise/multi-unit brands that collectively have more than 13,000 points of distribution, 2,500 franchisees, and more than $3 billion in system-wide revenues across 50 states and 33 countries. Its franchise portfolio includes such well known brands as Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky's, Moe's Southwest Grill, Seattle's Best Coffee International, McAlister's Deli, Money Mailer, Fast Signs, Batteries Plus and Primrose Schools. The firm has more than $1.5 billion of equity capital under management.