Two deals promising a combined 1,600 corporate jobs for metro Atlanta illustrate the city’s prowess when it comes to the franchising sector, where global growth tends to outpace growth at home.
Inspire Brands, the company founded after the combination of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings earlier this year, said it would put $32 million into a new headquarters in Sandy Springs starting in 2019. The company has a combined 4,600 stores with systemwide revenue of $7.6 billion last year, including 26 R Taco locations in six states.
Just a few days later, coffee giant Starbucks announced a satellite office that would operate as an East Coast extension of its headquarters in Seattle, bringing up to 500 jobs on $16 million in investment. Invest Atlanta contributed $250,000 from its Economic Opportunity Fund to seal the deal, which is expected to have a $190 million impact on the city.
Both are testaments to Atlanta’s longstanding role as a hub for franchising — a sector that feeds off some of the same service-business-serivces talent that makes the city a top location for Fortune 500 bases.
Sandy Springs, which sits near the intersection of Georgia 400 and Interstate 285, is no stranger to the head offices of franchise brands with restaurants spanning the globe. Church’s Chicken maintains its headquarters there. In years past, when Arby’s was combined with Wendy’s under the Triarc umbrella, its logo graced a tower there. Focus Brands, which operates Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne’s pretzels and other brands, is also in metro-area city.
In that way, it’s not altogether unprecedented or surprising for Inspire to choose Sandy Springs, but the fact that it’s staying after a reinvigoration and combination of the brands under the ownership of Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group says something about the gravity of the industry here.
According to its website, the chain is “aggressively expanding” to “international markets where we can secure large, multi-unit agreements with high-performing operators.” Most markets require a 50-100-restaurant minimum. Priority areas include Hong Kong, Singapore, United Kingdom, Central America, Mexico and more.
Buffalo Wild Wings, meanwhile, has locations in 10 countries from Panama to Saudi Arabia to Vietnam, where it operates under the name B-Dubs. Franchisees for the casual dining chain need $5 million in liquid assets and must commit to opening at least five stores.
Starbucks, meanwhile, is its own animal, with 25,000 stores in 78 countries. That spans from more than 3,000 in China to just one in Milan, Italy, where Starbucks opened a roastery and cafe this week after years of hesitation. While the coffee-crazed country inspired the idea for the U.S. chain, its near-ubiquitous espresso bars have helped keep it out.
Atlanta is beginning to raise its flag as a franchising mecca. Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog is a former president of both Church’s and Arby’s and has been active in recruiting global franchise brands to the city.
For more on Atlanta as a global franchise hub, read this piece: