Private equity firm BIP Opportunities Fund has bought a controlling interest in the franchise
Private equity firm BIP Opportunities Fund has bought a controlling interest in Tropical Smoothie Café, a 315-unit quick-service franchise serving smoothies, sandwiches and salad on a better-for-you marketing platform.
Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Founder Erich Jenrich and David Walker, the former owners of Tropical Smoothie Café, remain on the board of directors, and former chief operating officer Mike Rotondo has been promoted to replace Jenrich as chief executive officer. BIP partner Scott Pressly, who has been a financial and strategic advisor to the chain since 2009, is the company’s new chairman.
“We’re very excited to be under new leadership,” Rotondo told Nation’s Restaurant News. “It’s a real tip of the hat to Eric Jenrich,” he added, noting that the entrepreneur understood that it was time for the company to be led by “a team of people that can really take the brand to a higher level."
“BIP is going to expose us to other leaders in the industry and other contacts,” he added, noting that the firm’s expertise in unit-level economics would help improve franchisees’ bottom lines.
“We were attracted to TSC’s passionate franchisee base and fresh, ‘better-for-you’ product offerings. We feel the company is well-positioned for substantial growth,” Pressly said in a press release. “Our expansion plans will be to increase franchise sales by driving franchisee economics. When the franchisee wins, everyone wins.”
Rotondo said the company has a goal of signing on 75 new “qualified franchisees” per year for single-unit and multi-unit deals.
The system currently has about 205 franchisees. So far this year, 22 new locations have been opened, and the company has a target of opening another 10 to 12 locations by the end of the year.