Church's Chicken, the fast-food chain that operates more than 1,500 locations including a Chattanooga eatery on Brainerd Road, is slated to be sold by one California-based private equity firm to another.
San Francisco-based FFL Partners has agreed to sell the Church's brand to the owner of the Quiznos subs chain, San Diego-based High Bluff Capital Partners, along with support from funds managed by FS Investments.
The fate of the company's local headquarters was not disclosed by a spokesperson, but the current chief executive officer, Joe Christina, is expected to continue leading the restaurant business, according to a news release. Terms of the agreement were not released.
Most of the units in the chain are owned by franchisees. Of the 53 restaurants in Georgia at the end of last year, 45 were owned by franchisees, according to disclosure documents filed by the company. Church's operates 20 restaurants in Tennessee.
Church's, which also goes by Texas Chicken in some international markets, is the 43rd largest limited-service restaurant by U.S. sales, according to QSR magazine. It was founded in San Antonio in 1952 and it has more restaurants in Texas than any other state.
In a news release, High Bluff said it would boost the chain's growth in the United States and elsewhere, including 100 new locations in the next year. It said the chain had systemwide sales of nearly $1.2 billion last year amid the pandemic.
That's about what it was nearly a decade ago, according to a news release at the time. Over the last three years, the number of U.S. restaurants in the company has gradually declined, according to a company franchise disclosure document.
High Bluff founder Anand Gowda said in a news release that the new owners would work closely with Church's management team and franchisees to grow the business. Rushabh Vora, an executive with Philadelphia-based FS Partners, highlighted growth forecasts for the overall fast-food chicken segment as well as the potential for Church's to expand into China, Australia and other areas.