News Column

Carlson sells TGI Friday's to private investors

May 20, 2014

By David Phelps, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

May 20--Carlson is selling TGI Fridays, its restaurant stalwart for the past 39 years, to a pair of New York-based private investment groups, the company said Tuesday.

Terms were not disclosed.

The deal comes six months after Minnetonka-based Carlson put Fridays on the block.

Carlson CEO Trudy Rautio said proceeds from the transaction will be used by Carlson "to focus on and accelerate the growth of its hotel and travel businesses at a time when significant opportunities exist in these markets."

The acquiring firms are Sentinel Capital Partners, which has extensive background in the restaurant business, and TriArtisan Capital Partners, the merchant banking arm of Morgan Joseph TriArtisan.

TGI Friday's, which grew from 10 locations to more than 900 restaurants under Carlson's control, did approximately $2.7 billion in sales last year. Nearly 400 of those units are outside of the U.S. About half of the 500 U.S. locations are franchise owned.

Restaurant properties have been a hot commodity in recent postrecession years as capital returned to the marketplace. In announcing Carlson's decision to explore "strategic alternatives" for Friday's last November, Rautio called the timing "optimal" for the restaurant's sale.

Friday's, which lost some of its luster in recent years with the advent of other popular chains such as Applebee's, Chili's and Buffalo Wild Wings, started a remodeling campaign two years ago to rejuvenate its appeal to a younger, single clientele.

David Phelps -- 612-673-7269


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Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)