Taco Bell and 7-Eleven Inc. franchisee Ampex Brands LLC is enjoying life on the other side of the franchise table and has decided to add to its coffer of wholly owned brands.
The Dallas-based company, which bought 171-location fast casual chain Au Bon Pain last year, recently added a second franchisor in eight-location bistro chain Bellagreen.
The company’s interest in brand ownership was driven by a desire to be a “lessor versus a lessee,” Ampex founder and CEO Tabbassum Mumtaz told The Deal following the Bellagreen deal, announced July 25.
While Ampex and its founders enjoyed being franchisees, the company wanted to see how it could better other brands as a franchisor, especially in terms of marketing and managing franchisee relationships, he said.
Dallas-based Bellagreen offers salads, pizzas, burgers, pastas and alcoholic beverages, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. The target and seller Hargett Hunter Capital Partners looked to Susan Miller and Sean Mirzabegian at Morgan Kingston Advisers LLC for financial advice and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP for counsel.
Ampex Brands is evaluating more restaurant concepts for potential investment and is looking to the fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of 2023 to potentially close another deal. The company typically looks for brands that can connect with a younger demographic and have a healthy eating focus, synergies with its existing operations and strong growth potential, according to Mumtaz.
Ampex was founded in 2005 to operate KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) locations as well as 7-Eleven convenience stores. In 2011, Ampex expanded into franchisors with the acquisition of a stake in Long John Silver’s Restaurants Inc. as part of a consortium, but Au Bon Pain was the franchisee’s first fully owned restaurant brand.
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