Arby’s Owner Buys Buffalo Wild Wings for $2.9B

After pulling off an impressive turnaround at Arby's, Roark Capital faces a similar challenge at the chicken-wing chain.
Matthew HellerNovember 28, 2017

After transforming Arby’s, private equity firm Roark Capital is taking on another restaurant challenge by acquiring Buffalo Wild Wings, a casual dining chain buffeted by changing millenial tastes, for about $2.9 billion.

The deal announced Tuesday will make Buffalo Wild Wings a privately-held subsidiary of Arby’s Restaurant Group (ARG), adding to Roark holdings that also include stakes in burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Roark acquired control of Arby’s in 2011 and has executed an impressive turnaround at the sandwich chain.

As Business Insider reports, Buffalo Wild Wings is in need of a similar turnaround as, like other casual-dining chains, it has “struggled to attract diners as millennial tastes have evolved away from sit-down restaurants.” Higher labor costs have also hurt the company, which has been under pressure from activist investor Marcato Capital Management to boost its stock price.

ARG will pay $157 per share in cash for Buffalo Wild Wings — a premium of 7% over the stock’s Monday close — with Roark affiliates providing all of the equity financing. In trading Tuesday, the stock was up 6.25% at $155.55.

“Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the most distinctive and successful entertainment and casual dining restaurant companies in America,” Paul Brown, ARG’s chief executive, said in a news release.

“We are excited to welcome a brand with such a rich heritage, led by an exceptionally talented team,” he added. “We look forward to leveraging the combined strengths of both organizations into a truly differentiated and transformative multi-brand restaurant company.”

Buffalo Wild Wings, which was founded in 1982, operates more than 1,250 restaurants in 10 countries. It reported better-than-expected profit for the first time in a year in October, boosted by a change in promotional strategy.

The company had been a “star performer” in the sector for years but recently “lost their value proposition to families with kids,” NPD Group restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs told USA Today.

Arby’s, a money-loser before Roark’s investment, reached $3.7 billion in sales last year, with $1.1 million in sales per store on average in the U.S. — up 20% from 2013.