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Church’s Chicken is reportedly looking for a buyer

Private-equity firm FFL Partners could seek $350 million for the 1,500-unit chain.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Church’s Chicken is reportedly on the block, adding another potential name to the growing market for restaurant chains.

Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that FFL Partners, the private-equity firm that bought the 1,500-unit quick-service chicken chain a decade ago, has hired advisers to explore a sale process. The publication said that Church’s is asking for about $350 million.

A representative for Church’s said the company “declines to comment on speculation and rumors.”

FFL, which had been known as Friedman Fleischer & Lowe, bought Atlanta-based Church’s from the Bahrain-based investment firm Arcapita Bank in 2009.

The chain has seen its unit count and system sales decline in the U.S. in recent years amid growing competition in the bone-in chicken market from chains such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and a rejuvenated KFC. Boneless chains such as Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Zaxby’s have also taken share.

Domestic system sales were $747 million last year, down 13% since 2013, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. Unit count has fallen by the same amount, to 1,045 locations in the U.S.

Church’s does have about 500 locations outside the U.S., where the brand is known as Texas Chicken.

The brand has generated some sales lift from a delivery program introduced last year. The company also brought in a new chief marketing officer, Brian Gies, in March.

The sale report comes as other chains have been looking for buyers. The owner of Perkins & Marie Callender’s last week acknowledged that it has been looking for a buyer for the family-dining chains and might file for bankruptcy protection to get it done.

Kona Grill is being sold in that process. And Canadian brand collector MTY Group has bought Papa Murphy’s.

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