CKE Restaurants Inc., parent to the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, is moving the brands’ headquarters from California and Missouri and consolidating them in Nashville, Tenn., early next year, the company confirmed Friday.

The move comes after CKE successfully refranchised about 92 percent of its 3,664 restaurants in a shift toward a more asset-light business model. Among the refranchised units are restaurants in Hardee’s headquarters city of St. Louis and in Santa Barbara County, Calif., where Carl’s Jr.’s home office in Carpinteria, Calif., is located.

“Being highly franchised has also reduced our office space needs and, thus, made consolidating offices a more viable option,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “As such, early next year we will be consolidating our Carpinteria and St. Louis corporate offices in Nashville, which is centrally located and is one of the markets where we have retained company-owned restaurants.”

It is unclear whether the consolidation will result in layoffs. CKE executives declined to comment on staffing changes that will result from the move.

Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE, has been threatening to move the Carl’s Jr. headquarters from California for years, saying the business environment in the state is unfriendly. He has also hinted of moving to states like Texas and Tennessee because they have no individual income tax.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, at least six of nine executives on the management team have purchased residential property in the Nashville area, including Puzder, who in 2015 bought a $1.53 million home in Franklin, Tenn., which is about 20 miles south of Nashville.

CKE was acquired by private-equity firm Roark Capital Group, based in Atlanta, in 2013. At the time, CKE was about 74-percent franchise owned.

In recent years, CKE has been growing more rapidly overseas.

On Monday, the company announced its first Carl’s Jr. unit in Japan, operated by Carl’s Jr. Japan Inc., a subsidiary of Mitsuuroko Group Holdings Co. Ltd., in Tokyo. The master franchisee plans to develop 150 Carl’s Jr. restaurants throughout Japan over the next decade.

About 19 percent of CKE restaurants are international locations, and the two brands have units in 37 countries. Within the next five years, the company projects that 25 percent to 30 percent of units will be international, including recent moves into Australia. Next up is Kenya, and the company is planning moves into Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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