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National Restaurant Association takes a majority stake in Winsight

The parent company of Restaurant Business will remain an independent company and will continue to operate the National Restaurant Association Show.
National Restaurant Association buys Winsight
Photo by Jonathan Maze

The National Restaurant Association has taken a majority stake in Restaurant Business owner Winsight Holdings, LLC, the companies said on Tuesday, in a unique deal that intensifies a three-year-old partnership between the two organizations.

That partnership began with Winsight’s 2018 acquisition of the annual National Restaurant Association Show. The media, events and information company will continue to own and operate the annual event, which has not been held in person since 2019.

Winsight will remain an independent company and its leadership team will remain in place. Restaurant Business likewise will remain an independent publication, though it publishes regular news and information from the association and will continue to do so with the ownership change.

The private equity firm Pamlico, which has held a stake in Winsight since 2017, has exited its investment. Terms of the deal between the association and Winsight were not disclosed.

“Together, the National Restaurant Association and Winsight will be better positioned to support the dynamic demands of the restaurant, foodservice and allied retail industries as it continues to rebuild,” Tom Bené, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement. “The association’s investment in Winsight reinforces its commitment to support and best represent the interests of the entire industry. Winsight’s robust engagement and event platforms along with their industry-leading informational resources contribute enormously to the success of every restaurant.”

Winsight is a media, events and information company that serves every segment of the food and beverage industry, including restaurants, noncommercial foodservice, convenience stores and grocers.

In addition to the Show, Winsight operates the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference, the technology-focused FSTEC, the Global Restaurant Leadership Conference and Outlook Leadership.

It also owns Technomic, market intelligence firm that provides insights to the food and beverage industries. And in addition to Restaurant Business, Winsight owns the c-store publication CSP, Foodservice Director and Winsight Grocery Business.

The association deal was designed to give Winsight more financial flexibility. It followed a difficult year in which the pandemic all but eliminated in-person events.

“In the face of an historic challenge, our industry has shown resilience, innovation and teamwork,” Mike Wood, Winsight’s CEO, said in a statement. “Restaurants are in the early days of a comeback that promises significant growth for the next five years. Convenience and grocery stores have evolved and redefined what it means to be essential. Thanks to this renewed partnership with the association, Winsight’s market defining thought leadership will be available to fuel a rebirth.”

This isn’t the association’s first foray into the business world—it operated the show for years, after all. But the deal remains unique, as was that partnership that led up to it.

“Winsight’s business units and activities align with the Association’s current and future strategic objectives related to providing our industry and members with useful content, best practices and convening opportunities,” Bené said in an interview over email. “In short, our board of directors recognized the tremendous synergies and opportunities between Winsight and the Association.”

Bené noted that the Association also provides support to the grocery, c-store, hotel and lodging industries, so Winsight’s presence in those markets could open more doors for both organizations. “This deal will provide additional opportunities for both Winsight and the association to supply best practice training and content to these existing markets,” he said.

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