SAN DIEGO — High Bluff Capital Partners, supported by investment funds managed by FS Investments, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire quick-service chicken restaurant chain Church’s Chicken from FFL Partners. Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to close during the third quarter of 2021, were not disclosed.
Founded in 1952, Atlanta-based Church’s Chicken operates more than 1,500 locations in 26 countries and international territories. Last year, Church’s generated system-wide sales of nearly $1.2 billion, and it plans to open more than 100 new locations over the next year.
“At a time when the entire restaurant industry has faced unprecedented challenges, Church’s has stood out as a notable bright spot, having emerged from the pandemic with considerable tailwinds that strongly position the brand for tremendous growth geographically as well as in the overall chicken category,” said Anand Gowda, founder of High Bluff Capital Partners and former president and managing partner of Metropoulos & Co.
Church’s will join Quiznos and Taco Del Mar in High Bluff’s restaurant platform, REGO Restaurant Group, which it established in 2018.
“Our investment strategy continues to center on identifying brands with long-term connections with consumers that can be energized and propelled to greater success through targeted industry expertise, operational efficiencies, innovation and creative brand management,” Mr. Gowda said. “Church’s fits squarely within this wheelhouse. We look forward to leveraging our robust platform and working closely with the management team and franchisees to accelerate Church’s positive trajectory.”
Joe Christina, chief executive officer of Church’s Chicken, will remain at the helm of the brand.
“The past few years have been all about growth for the brand and its franchisees,” Mr. Christina said. “Our focus will be to deliver against our strategic plan with new locations in the US and internationally and continued profitable sales growth. I am proud to continue leading the brand with High Bluff and the solid backing of FS Investments, which will give us the added momentum to truly realize our vision to be the global franchisor of choice.”
FS investments is an asset manager focused on helping individuals, financial professionals and institutions design better portfolios, according to the company. Based in Philadelphia, the firm provides access to alternative source of income and growth.
“In addition to becoming a premier global franchisor, Church’s has long dominated the value-oriented market in the chicken category, with a highly recognizable brand, consistent quality and delicious offerings,” said Rushabh Vora, managing director at FS Investments. “With the global chicken QSR market forecasted to grow meaningfully over the next few years, and major geographies such as China and Australia still yet to be tapped by Church’s, we see exciting growth potential for this beloved brand.”