Within those U.S. restaurant channels, roughly 30 percent of sales are generated from the bar. Many goals for Fridays in 2020 and beyond center around alcoholic beverages, then. Blanchette said this means emphasizing new, value-driven drink options and happy hours.
Refocusing on bar tradition goes hand-in-hand with Fridays seasoned franchises—franchise owners within the system have an average 15 years of experience. But there’s a balance of past and future influences that’s also required.
Blanchette said that strengthening underperforming franchisees is another focus; for instance, in the brand’s important Boston market, 40 to 50 percent of existing directors of operations and general managers have been replaced over the last three months. Buying back some franchised locations is also part of this strengthening process. In January 2020, the chain bought back 36 stores altogether; 20 in Western markets and 16 on the East Coast.
Together with an added focus on delivery (roughly 13 percent of sales fall into the off-premises category now), boosting loyalty program membership, and launching new retail products, Fridays is leaning back into what made them successful in previous years, with the idea of leveraging past prosperity for future triumphs.
In November, GIF Holdings, LLC and Allegro Merger Corp. announced they signed a definitive agreement for “a business combination transaction,”—a move that would result in Fridays becoming a publicly listed company. At closing, TGIF’s holders received a combination of cash and stock valued at $30 million. Allegro assumed roughly $350 million of net debt.
Carlson sold TGI Fridays to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners for $800 million in 2014. Carlson bought the brand a decade after it was started, when it had just 11 stores.
Systemwide sales for the 12-month period that ended September 30 were about $2 billion. Average annual-unit volume was $2.7 million.
Blanchette was hired in October 2018 after nine months as CEO of Ruby Tuesday. He succeeded Aslam Khan, a Fridays franchisee.