Sands Investment Group Assists Bush’s on Corporate and Franchisee-Owned Locations

Austin, TX (November 18, 2016) – Sands Investment Group (SIG), a net lease firm that targets the restaurant industry, recently represented Bush’s Chicken for multiple completed sale-leaseback transactions. Bush’s is a regional fried chicken fast food chain based in Texas with more than 73 stores.

Max Freedman, managing director based in SIG’s Austin, Texas office, has completed five sale-leaseback transactions year to date for Bush’s at an average sale price of $1.978 million as part of their overall corporate strategy. The transactions are located in the following Texas cities: Lacey Lakeview, Copperas Cove, San Antonio, Bryan, and Lamesa.

The most recent deal in Lamesa was initiated when a Bush’s investment banks where the advisors have been bankers their entire careers, we bring that owner and operator mentality to our clients, helping to bridge the gap between lower middlemarket clients and investors.”

What also differentiates them, says Craig Dickens, Merit Harbor Group’s CEO who founded the firm in 2012, is they will often work with their clients for months before they are ready for sale, identifying where the client can create more value, and helping them to improve those areas. And Stonefire Grill was no exception: They spent 18 months with the chain’s management before the sale. The management team at Stonefire “was amazed we finished the deal on time, as promised,” Dickens said. “We were able to do that because when we started the sale process, they were ready to go to market. And it resulted in a great transaction.”

The process of securing the right equity partner is never easy; there has to be a cultural fit, said Illes. Both he and Dickens credit Goode Partners for recognizing that although the management team was structured a bit differently than most—rather than having a CEO who pushes decisions top down, Stonefire has a COO, CFO and CMO who all make decisions together—their structure was working: The company generates about $70 million in revenue with nine locations. “Those are very healthy average unit volumes,” said Dickens. And Dickens says, don’t believe everything you read about the fast casual sector. “Multiples are still strong out there.” With the stock market “bumping along and Americans’ continued desire to get in and out quickly, but still have a quality dining experience, investors are seeing the restaurant industry as an industry to place money.”

“Quality sells,” added Illes. “And if you have a quality chain that’s scalable with the right management team, that’s going to command a high multiple.”

For more information on Merit Harbor Group, contact Craig Dickens, CEO at (253) 327-1490, or by email at craig. dickens@ meritharborgroup.com. Or contact Managing Director John Illes, at (702) 463-0332 or email at john.illes@ meritharborgroup.com.

Franchisee contacted SIG to discuss options for a store that was built by another franchisee who no longer wanted to be in the fast food business. The sale included the business and real estate, adding up to a capital contribution of more than $1.2 million. To secure certainty of close, the sale-leaseback was structured to allow the franchisee to obtain the business in less than 30 days and confirm occupancy for 40 years under a new long-term lease.

Freedman said SIG has developed a relationship with the Bush’s management team to assist them beyond sale-leaseback financing, as well. They provide build-to-suit development for those franchisees building new locations, and also assist with site selection.

“We partnered up with them (SIG) over a year ago,” said Todd Scott, Bush’s managing partner-director of real estate, after their current broker was not helping them move forward. After working with SIG on several sale-leaseback transactions for company and franchisee-owned stores, “we found them to be very knowledgeable, very aggressive and very much a collaborative partnership.”

“They don’t just sell the property and take off,” he added. “They are there throughout the process and look at us as partners.” Bush’s was launched in 1972 by Keith Bush, and today, son Corey Bush is CEO and president. Up until May, they were owned by PE firm Hammock Group, but the younger Bush and his investor team bought back the company and moved the headquarters to their home base of Waco in order to expand it more quickly.

Bush’s Chicken looks to open another 25 locations next year, and will continue to work with SIG to help them grow. In addition to build-to-suit development and sale-leaseback financing, SIG also provides tenant representation services. For more information on Sands Investment Group, contact Max Freedman at max@signnn.com, or at (512) 766-2711.