Arby’s former CEO and parent company Inspire Brands plans to create a fast-food empire. Inspire Brands announced on September 25 that it would be acquiring Sonic for $2.3 billion, including the company’s debt. Inspire Brands is primarily owned by private-equity firm Roark Capital and the new deal comes after the company closed on a separate deal to acquire Buffalo Wild Wings and Rusty Taco, earlier this year.
“We like brands that are great brands, that have gone through a period of great success, and may be in a temporary period with a little bit of a challenge, where there’s an opportunity to come in and get it back on a path,” Inspire CEO Paul Brown told Business Insider at the time. According to figures provided by the company, Inspire Brands’ portfolio will contain more than 8,000 locations with sales exceeding $12 billion.
Arby’s is the chain that began everything for Inspire Brands. Brown became the CEO in 2013, and led Arby’s through an impressive turnaround effort, taking risks in hopes of making Arby’s stand out and reach headlines. “We had to one, come up with a way of talking about ourselves in a voice that actually stood out, but we also had to be more creative about all the channels that you could use to get the message out,” Brown told Business Insider in 2017.
Throughout the company’s venture to create a restaurant empire, Arby’s announced plans to acquire Buffalo Wild Wings in November of 2017 for nearly $2.9 billion. In February of 2018, the company announced it closed the deal. “I think there’s an opportunity to step way back and say it’s not and let it define its own category — a little bit of what we did with Arby’s,” Brown told Business Insider in February.
Rusty Taco was also part of the Buffalo Wild Wings deal, who holds a small chain of only 28 locations. However, it’s very unlikely the company will purchase another small brand. “Buying really small brands and trying to really grow them is not part of the stated strategy,” Brown said in February.
“We like R Taco, which came along with Buffalo Wild Wings, and that has some opportunity to do some fun and interesting things with it,” Brown continued. “We like to incubate a brand or two along the way, but that’s not our stated strategy.”
Arby’s even acquired Sonic, which is known for its burgers, quirky menu items and extensive beverage options. It is the largest drive-in chain in the United States with more than 3,600 locations. Although Arby’s now owns sonic, the chain will continue to run as an independent brand.
“Sonic has had a significant focus on innovation, especially in guest-facing digital technologies,” Inspire Brands said in a statement. “In addition, its menu — especially its beverage innovation — is truly unique. Each of these areas are great growth opportunities for Inspire’s current brands.”