Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sonic Drive-In Owner—Inspire Brands—Buys Jimmy John’s

Big sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is on the block this week, with a sale to the parent company to Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sonic Drive-In.  This parent company is known as Inspire Brands, who has unanimously approved the purchase of the Jimmy John’s board of directors, which includes founder Jimmy John Liautaud.  No financial terms of this deal have yet to be disclosed.

In a statement, Liautaud commented, “Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire. Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow sets it apart form the rest.  I couldn’t be prouder of the company we’ve built, and I can’t wait to see what Jimmy John’s is able to accomplish under Inspire’s leadership.”

Of course, Jimmy John’s has more than 2,800 locations in the US, with a net sales of more than $2.1 billion last year.  With a start in only 1983, the brand has grown steadily, proving its worth over the years.  With his initial loan of $25,000—borrowed from his father after graduating high school—Liautaud had to drop out of college to focus on his business. After all, the store did $155,000 in sales in its first year, with a net profit of $40,000.  Within only the next three years, Liautaud bought out his father’s 48 percent stake.

The company continues to grow, of course, and was the first major sandwich chain to operate its own delivery service.  Obviously, as the first company to do so, they have since had to defend their position and their business as other enter into the same fray.

Inspire co-founder and CEO Paul Brown also released a statement. In his statement, he said, “Jimmy John’s is a great fit for the Inspire family. What started in 1983 as a sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois, has grown into a national, differentiated brand with a passionate fanbase. We are excited to welcome the Jimmy John’s brand to inspire and look forward to working with their team and franchisees to help the company achieve its next stage of growth.”


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