Press Releases

Chicken Salad Chick receives investment from Eagle Merchant Partners

Southern fast-casual restaurant concept readies for growth

Auburn, AL (May 4, 2015) -- Chicken Salad Chick, one of Nation's Restaurant News 2015 Breakout Brands, recently announced that it has received an investment from Eagle Merchant Partners (Eagle), an Atlanta, Ga.-based private equity firm.

This partnership brings a depth of restaurant industry experience to the leadership team, including the naming of restaurant industry veteran Russ Umphenour as Chairman of the Board and Scott Deviney as President and CEO. Umphenour is the former CEO of Focus Brands (parent of Moe's, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, McAlister's Deli, Carvel Ice Cream, Schlotzsky's and Cinnabon) and RTM Restaurant Group (former top Arby's franchisee). Scott Deviney is former CEO of SDZ (an Atlanta-based multi-unit Wendy's franchisee) and SVP with SunTrust Bank specializing in the restaurant industry. Founders Kevin and Stacy Brown will continue to serve in roles that will aid the future growth and management of the concept. Partner and investor Earlon McWhorter, who has been serving as VP of Market Development, will remain as an Advisor to the Company for future store and market development. The investment from Eagle will provide capital to fuel growth by further building out the management team, systems and infrastructure while also supporting new unit growth.

"Stacy and I are overjoyed with our new partnership with Eagle," said Founder Kevin Brown. "Passing the baton to Scott Deviney as CEO, combined with the stellar track record of industry icon Russ Umphenour and Eagle's restaurant expertise, helps solidify our strategic vision for Chicken Salad Chick. We look forward to working together to enhance our franchise support services, marketing efforts and brand leadership."

Chicken Salad Chick, will add to its 32 existing locations by continuing to open units throughout 9 states in the Southeastern U.S. With a development pipeline of over 100 additional locations contracted with franchise partners, Chicken Salad Chick looks to grow its presence aggressively over the next few years.

"Scott and I are excited to join Chicken Salad Chick as the company enters this new chapter of growth. It is a strong brand with a unique offering and loyal customers, and we look forward to working with our franchise partners to accelerate the growth of the brand", said Russ Umphenour. Stockton Croft, Partner with Eagle adds, "This will be the eighth restaurant or retail investment made by the partners of Eagle and we are fully committed to the success of this great Southeastern brand and the management team."

About Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick puts an edgy twist on a southern classic, offering customers a "custom-fit" chicken salad experience, with 15 original flavors to choose from, as well as gourmet soups, flavorful side salads and freshly-baked desserts. They were recently named as the top chicken salad in the country to try in Cooking with Paula Deen, as well as one of QSR's "Ones to Watch". There are currently 32 Chicken Salad Chick locations open throughout six states in the Southeast. Corporate offices are located at 724 North Dean Road in Auburn, Alabama. See www.chickensaladchick.com for additional information.

About Eagle Merchant Partners

Eagle Merchant Partners is an Atlanta, Ga.-based private equity firm focused on lower middle market companies in the consumer, logistics and industrial sectors in the Southeastern United States. The partnership is one of the most experienced private equity investors in the region, investing in fourteen companies with more than $1.5 billion in revenues. For more information, visit www.eaglemerchantpartners.com.

 

LSO Acquires Express Courier International Creating a Unique Super-Regional Shipping Solution Stretching From Texas to the Carolinas

Acquisition Boosts Footprint for Unparalleled Logistics Solutions Across Southeast United States

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - Feb 11, 2015) - LSO, a leading regional parcel carrier, today announced the acquisition of Express Courier International (Express/ECI), a market leading same-day carrier in the southeast and mid-south region, to form a super-regional parcel carrier providing an unmatched portfolio of customized shipping solutions now spanning across 13 states throughout the southeast and southwest of the United States.

"At LSO, we are pleased to join forces with Express as we expand our service area across the southeastern United States," said Rick Jones, CEO of LSO. "The powerful combination of Express and LSO provides us the rare opportunity to deliver a unique set of product and service offerings -- from same day to day-definite guaranteed deliveries -- to our customers that you just can't find anywhere else. Both companies share a burning desire to provide superior service for our customers while servicing the shipping needs of everyone, from small and mid-sized shippers to Fortune 500 shippers."

The combination of LSO and Express creates the largest regional parcel carrier in the southern United States and completes an important expansion strategy for LSO. As the shipping industry and global supply chain needs continue to change rapidly, LSO has developed a strategic plan to work with shippers and provide the company's unique offerings and a customer-centric business model to more businesses. This acquisition provides the ability to achieve this strategy.

"Express is excited to be joining LSO, which enables both companies to continue our aggressive approach to expanding throughout the U.S.," said Chuck Moyer, CEO of Express. "Both organizations are laser-focused on customer service and value. Our combined strength will allow us to provide our customers with unique service offerings, customized solutions, same-day, as well as regional overnight services, enhanced footprint and expanded product variety. Simply put, no one in the industry is able to put together this comprehensive set of shipping services for their customers."

LSO and Express will provide customers with a unique regional solution unmatched in the United States providing a service offering that includes a combination of on-demand, scheduled/routed, distribution, warehousing and day-definite guaranteed products. Through a unique technology solution, the combined companies will provide a centralized monitoring system that proactively monitors customer expectations, key performance indicators (KPIs) and other impact factors. Backed by Atlanta-based private equity firm Eagle Merchant Partners, the combined companies will have the resources and capabilities to meet the current and future needs of the global supply chain.

About LSO

LSO, a leading regional parcel carrier founded in 1991, is headquartered in Austin, Texas and offers a full range of next-day, day-definite guaranteed deliveries. LSO has among the highest reliability records and lowest damage rates in the industry offering competitive rates throughout Texas, Oklahoma, western Louisiana, southern New Mexico and Mexico. LSO provides live customer support and flexible shipping solutions. For more information, visit www.ShipLSO.com or call 1-800-800-8984.

About Express

Express Courier International, a market leader in the customized logistics same-day delivery sector, is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee offers unmatched scale, route density, and presence in the Southeastern and Mid-South U.S. Express operates in 13 states with a fleet of over 1,800 vehicles and monitored by its centralized operations center in Nashville. For more information, visit www.expressdelivers.net or call 1-888-381-6903.

 

Eagle Merchant Partners Acquires Leading Parcel Company LSO

Atlanta (April 23, 2014) - Affiliates of Eagle Merchant Partners (EMP), an Atlanta, Ga.-based private equity firm focused on middle-market buyouts in the Southeastern United States, have acquired LSO (formerly known as Lone Star Overnight), an Austin, Texas-based regional small parcel and same-day delivery solution provider.

This is the second deal for EMP following the acquisition of Vasari, the second largest Dairy Queen franchise in the United States in late 2013. EMP is well versed in logistics, as its partners were involved in the acquisition, development and successful sale of 3PD, a last-mile heavy goods delivery company, and remain involved in the ongoing management of PODS, the category creator and leader of portable storage and moving. The firm invested approximately $20 million in equity for the LSO acquisition with support from well-known institutional partners and family offices. NXT and New Canaan provided debt financing for the deal.

With a service area covering every address in Texas, Oklahoma, western Louisiana, southern New Mexico and, through partnerships, California, the western U.S. and Mexico, LSO is a fast-growing regional small parcel delivery company operating an integrated ground and air, point-to-point mini-hub model. Serving thousands of customers daily, it also has many ecommerce customers and is actively forging strategic partnerships with several large ecommerce companies to provide delivery services in the region.

"LSO is a rapidly growing company with a strong management team. The company has distinct advantages in better service, lower damage rates and, usually better pricing," said Ransom James, Partner, EMP. "We are excited to invest in the people, the fleet and new delivery channels."

LSO offers a full range of next-day and day-definite guaranteed deliveries and has one of the highest reliability records and lowest damage rates in the industry. Extended pick-up times, early morning delivery options and competitive rates make LSO a high-service, high-value shipping provider.

"LSO is excited to partner with EMP to grow the business in our current markets and to expand both our channels and coverage areas," said Rick Jones, CEO of LSO. "EMP brings logistics expertise and capital to the table, and we are already planning new growth avenues."

The company has developed a solid client base while focusing on niche markets including industrial products, distributors, energy, specialty pharmaceuticals, wine, e-commerce and many others. There is opportunity for additional growth by expanding LSO's existing market and putting more resources into sales and marketing efforts as well as through EMP's interest in acquiring similar businesses in adjacent markets.

 

Eagle Merchant Partners Acquires Second Largest Dairy Queen Franchisee in the U.S.

Atlanta (December 16, 2013) -- Eagle Merchant Partners (EMP), an Atlanta, Ga.-based private equity firm focused on middle-market buyouts in the Southeastern United States, has acquired Vasari LLC, the second largest franchisee in the Dairy Queen system and the largest franchisee in Texas.

The Dec. 5, 2013 deal is for 74 Dairy Queen restaurants in three states, 71 of which are in Texas. A majority are clustered around Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, Waco, East Texas and the panhandle region. The transaction includes an exclusive territory rights agreement for the development of an additional 16 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The firm is committed to injecting capital into the existing restaurants, with plans to remodel and modernize 70 stores over the next five years.

"We are very excited about our first investment as EMP and to be developing new Dairy Queen stores in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market," said Stockton Croft, Partner with EMP. "Dairy Queen is an iconic, 80-year-old brand and we bring significant restaurant experience in the state of Texas to the table."

In 2004, EMP principals were involved in the acquisition of the largest IHOP franchisee in Texas, which is a similar business model to the DQ franchise. In the IHOP deal the team doubled the store base over the hold period. The partners have also invested in other restaurant concepts, including Church's Chicken and Krystal. EMP is actively seeking to acquire additional multi-unit Dairy Queen operators in the region who are looking for a professional transition and exit.

The partnership is forecasting continued growth in the Quick-Service Restaurant, QSR, category. QSRs represent the largest segment of the U.S. restaurant industry with 2013 sales projected to be $188.1 billion, which would be a nearly 5 percent increase over 2012. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the industry has grown by 20 percent, showing that during an economic slow down families seek more cost-conscious options when dining away from home.

About Eagle Merchant Partners

Eagle Merchant Partners is an Atlanta, Ga.-based private equity firm focused on middle market companies in the consumer, business services and industrial sectors in the Southeastern United States. The partnership is one of the most experienced private equity investors in the region having spent nearly a decade with Arcapita managing 20 portfolio companies with more than $2 billion in revenues. For more information, visit www.eaglemerchantpartners.com.

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Media contact:
Thornton Kennedy
PR South
C | (404) 210-0363
tkennedy@prsouth.net