Fairfax reports a deal between Retail Zoo and the private equity firm was inked last week, with Allis to retain a shareholding in the group. However, Allis has said the deal is “not final”.
Retail Zoo includes the Boost Juice brand, as well as Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, Cibo Espresso and Hatch Chicken Shop. The group is currently majority-owned by US private equity group The Riverside Company, which purchased a 70% stake from Janine and Jeff Allis for around $70 million in 2010.
Retail Zoo CEO Scott Meneilly told SmartCompany that “there is nothing to discuss at this stage” in relation to a sale of the business. “For us at a management level it is business as usual,” he said.
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However, commenting generally on the ownership of Retail Zoo, Meneilly said “Riverside is a private equity investor in our business, and as is normal for any investor of this type, at some stage in the future they will be looking to divest their interest”.
This is not the first time rumours about a change in ownership for Retail Zoo have circulated, with Asia Pacific private equity group Affinity Equity reportedly interested in the company in January.
According to Fairfax, Affinity Equity withdrew its interest following due diligence on the brands.
The acquisition would fit squarely with Bain Capital’s previous investments in the quick service restaurant category, including investments in Domino’s Pizza is the US and Japan, Dunkin’ Brands, Burger King and Bloomin’ Brands.
Boost Juice, which Janine and Jeff Allis founded with Geoff Harris and Marc and Daniel Besen, operates 300 stores nationally and is estimated to turnover more than $350 million each year, with annual earnings of more than $20 million.
Retail Zoo had a busy year in 2013, opening 36 new stores, acquiring coffee chain Cibo Espresso and launching Hatch Chicken Shop.
SmartCompany contacted Bain Capital but did not receive a response prior to publication.