Inspire Brands completes its purchase of Sonic

Inspire now operates brands that generate more than $12 billion in annual system sales.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Inspire Brands officially has its drive-in chain.

The Atlanta-based owner of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings completed its acquisition of Sonic Corp., giving the newly created brand operator its third major concept and fourth overall in addition to taco chain Rusty Taco.

Inspire now has more than 8,300 restaurants that generate $12 billion in system sales. That makes it the country’s fifth-largest restaurant company.

“Sonic and its franchisees have created one of the most successful and distinctive brands in the restaurant industry,” Paul Brown, Inspire’s CEO, said in a statement. “We look forward to helping further drive innovation and long-term growth at Sonic.”

Claudia San Pedro will lead Sonic as president following the retirement of Cliff Hudson, the chain’s former chairman and CEO. Hudson will serve as a senior adviser to Sonic until March “to help ensure a smooth transition.”

San Pedro called it “an important and exciting milestone” and said that “Inspire’s commitment to strategic investments and culture of collaboration will significantly benefit our guests, team members and franchisees.”

Inspire, formed earlier this year with the combination of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, agreed to buy Oklahoma City-based Sonic in a deal valued at $2.3 billion. Sonic operates more than 3,600 locations and generated $4.4 billion in system sales last year.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Bad weather returns as a restaurant sales problem

The Bottom Line: Snow and cold in January kept customers from visiting restaurants. Here's why this might be a bigger influence in the future.

Emerging Brands

How Sean Brock is spreading joy via Joyland

The famed Southern chef is ready to grow his fast-casual concept, saying it’s “a great privilege for somebody to make something as simple as a burger and fries and see how happy it makes people.”


What kind of value does McDonald's really need?

The Bottom Line: The fast-food burger giant expressed concern about losing low-income consumers to grocers. But the company’s sales haven’t exactly tanked.


More from our partners