Financing

Bob Evans puts itself on the market

The family dining chain has hired an investment bank to look for a buyer, after having initially considered a sale in 2022.
Bob Evans
Bob Evans is looking for a buyer, seven years after it was sold to Golden Gate Capital. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Bob Evans is on the market.

The family-dining chain has hired the investment bank Kroll to oversee a sale process, according to the publication Axios. Restaurant Business has confirmed from third-party sources that Bob Evans is on the market.

The company did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday, and its owner, the private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, declined to comment.

The New Albany, Ohio-based concept explored a sale in 2022, seeking a $600 million valuation, but ultimately never went through with it.

The M&A market largely cooled that year amid high inflation.

It has improved somewhat this year, which could prompt Golden Gate to give it another shot.

The private equity firm bought the chain for $565 million in 2017 when the company opted to split its restaurant operations from its consumer-packaged goods business, Bob Evans Farms.

Seven years is long for private equity ownership of a restaurant, which typically prefers getting a return in five years or less.

Bob Evans has performed fine during the pandemic. The brand operated 438 locations at the end of 2022, down from pre-pandemic levels when the chain operated 481 company-owned units, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

But average unit volumes were nearly $1.8 million, a nearly 8% increase from 2019.

The company was an early adopter of takeout and delivery, which helped keep sales afloat when restaurants were shut down for dine-in service in 2020.

That might be one of the company’s major talking points as it looks for prospective buyers, which have downshifted industry valuations following the run-up in inflation in 2021. Higher interest rates have also kept down prices.

The Japanese steakhouse chain Benihana was recently sold to The One Group, the owner of STK, for a multiple of 5 times EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

 

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