TGI Fridays to go public through merger with its U.K. franchisee

The TGI Fridays logo is seen on one of its restaurants in London, U.K., on May 27, 2020.
John Lamparski | Lightrocket | Getty Images

TGI Fridays and Hostmore, the chain’s U.K. franchisee, announced plans to merge on Tuesday.

The all-share deal is valued at 177 million pounds, or $220 million. If it closes, TGI Fridays, best known for its potato skins, chicken wings and endless appetizers, will be publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker “TGIF.”

The company’s headquarters for its U.S. and global brand operations will remain in Dallas, Texas. CEO Weldon Spangler, who has led the company since October, will keep his current role.

“As we were thinking about our future and working with Hostmore on their future, it was one of those ideas that somebody brought up and everybody looked at each other and said, ‘This might just work,'” Spangler told CNBC.

The new company would own 189 restaurants in the U.S. and the U.K., the companies said. Franchisees would operate the remaining roughly 400 locations of the chain’s global footprint, which spans 44 countries.

If approved by regulators, the merger is expected to close in the third quarter.

TriArtisan Capital Advisors bought TGI Fridays from longtime owner Carlson Restaurants in 2014 in a deal reportedly valued at more than $800 million. TriArtisan also owns stakes in P.F. Chang’s and Hooters.

In 2019, TGI Fridays announced plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, but that deal fell apart as the Covid-19 pandemic roiled financial markets and the restaurant industry.

In 2022, TGI Fridays’ revenue rose 3.6% to $75.2 million, according to U.S. franchise disclosure documents. But the bar-and-grill chain has been stuck in turnaround mode as shopping malls decline and the casual-dining segment loses customers.

Spangler told CNBC that TGI Fridays is now returning to its roots and focusing more on its bar offerings. Across the restaurant industry, alcoholic drinks are typically more profitable than food. Under Spangler, the chain also brought in new blood, like hiring Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group veteran Ray Risley as its U.S. president.

Earlier this year, TGI Fridays closed 36 underperforming restaurants in the U.S.

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