Inspire Brands is the umbrella group formed in 2018 following the purchase by Arby's of restaurant rival Buffalo Wild Wings. Both brands are among the Top 20 US chains by system sales, and the group has continued to add aggessively to its brand portfolio. Arby's is best-known for freshly sliced hot roast beef sandwiches served burger-style in a round bun with curly fries. More recently it has expanded its menu into other meats, toasted subs and a variety of other deli-style meal items. NRN estimated US system sales of $3.9bn in 2018, putting the chain a distant second behind Subway in the limited service sandwich segment. It has 3,300 outlets in the US and a small but growing international presence, mainly in Canada but also Turkey and the Middle East. The business was owned for several years by investment group Triarc, but following the acquisition of larger chain Wendy's in 2008, the Arby's business became increasingly overshadowed. It was sold to private equity fund Roark Capital in 2011, and performance has improved significantly. In 2017, Roark funded the $2.9bn buyout of publicly quoted sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings (system sales of $3.8bn in 2018 from 1,200 US outlets). They are accompanied by emerging TexMex chain Rusty Taco. Later in 2018, Inspire agreed to buy burger chain Sonic for $2.3bn. That is now the group's biggest business with system sales of $4.4bn. Subway rival Jimmy John's, already owned by parent Roark, transferred into Inspire in 2019, adding another $2.1bn in system sales. Roark also owns CKE (Carl's Jr & Hardee's), which operate separately. Arby's was founded in 1964 by brothers Leroy and Forest Raffel, already well-experienced in the food service business. The name was actually inspired by the initials for Raffel Brothers - or RB - but most customers have always assumed it stands for Roast Beef. Paul Brown is CEO of Inspire Brands. Jim Taylor succeeded Rob Lynch as president of Arby's in 2019. John Bowie is COO of Buffalo Wild Wings.
Capsule checked 18th August 2018
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Adbrands Daily Update 24th Feb 2020: "One Day". Burger chain Sonic is one of the newer additions to the portfolio of Inspire Brands, also owners of Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings and others. New owners often mean new agencies and so it has been with Sonic, which changed last year from long time partner Goodby Silverstein to the Los Angeles office of UK hotshop Mother. That agency has been on something of a hot streak recently, and this charming new campaign marks a major switch from Sonic's long-established "two guys in a car" format. Regular readers know that we at Adbrands love a bit of slice-of-life in advertising. Mother here presents brief snapshots from the lives of a selection of Sonic's real life customers from across the US. The agency compiled hundreds of hours of footage: this anthem spot contains a few snippets, some of which will be expanded into full 30-second clips. There are some priceless snapshots, all glimpsed in blink and you miss it vignettes. Our particular favourite is the girl up on (perhaps) her boyfriend's shoulders to peek over a garden fence. Nothing beats real life for a quirky detail.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Consolidation continues apace in the US fast food and casual dining market. Inspire Brands, the newly established parent group behind Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings, is adding another string to its bow with a deal for burger chain Sonic for $2.3bn including debt. Sonic will remain in its current Oklahoma City HQ under existing management. It is the biggest drive-in chain in America with around 3,600 mostly franchised outlets across 44 states. It now becomes the biggest business in Inspire's portfolio with system sales of $4.4bn last year, ahead of $3.75bn for Buffalo and $3.6bn for Arby's. Combined system sales of around $12bn makes Inspire the 4th largest US restaurant operator behind McDonald's, Yum Brands and Subway. However, Inspire CEO Paul Brown says he hasn't finished shopping yet. He plans to add another five or six brands to the portfolio, although some of these may simply transfer from Inspire's majority shareholder, investment group Roark Capital, which already own several other chains, not least Carl's Jr, Hardee's and Jimmy John's (which have combined system sales of almost $5.8bn).
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Nov 2017: US restaurant chain Arby's clinched a deal to acquire rival Buffalo Wild Wings with an increase in its original offer from $2.3bn to $2.9bn including debt. Arby's CEO Paul Brown will lead both businesses; Buffalo's long-time leader Sally Smith had already announced plans to step down. The deal confirms Arby's private equity owner Roark Capital as one of the biggest players in US eateries. In addition to Arby's and now Buffalo Wild Wings it also owns a host of other chains including CKE's Carl's Jr and Hardee's, Jimmy John's, Cinnabon bakeries, Culver's, Moe's Southwest Grill and several others.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Consolidation continues in the US restaurant industry. Roark Capital, the investment fund that owns Arby's, Hardee's, Carl's Jr and Jimmy John's, has offered to acquire casual dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings. The bid of $2.3bn represents a significant premium over Buffalo's current value, though still below past highs. The chain has suffered inconsistent performance in the past couple of years, and faces the imminent retirement of CEO Sally Smith, who has led the business for more than 20 years. Investors believe a rival bid might emerge over the coming weeks.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Sep 2013: Arby's announced the departure of CEO Hala Moddelmog in favour of George Condos, previously COO. At the same time, Rob Lynch was named as Arby's new chief marketing officer.
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