A&W signs largest multilocation pact since acquisition from Yum

A&W Restaurants Inc. has signed its largest multi-unit deal since a group of franchisees bought the brand from Yum nearly seven years ago. The agreement will put eight restaurants in Northwest Ohio by 2024, a news release said. 

"This agreement points to the power of the A&W brand and to the strength of our turnaround," CEO Kevin Bazner said in the release. "We added 15 domestic locations in 2017, and we expect to open another 15 this year."

The longtime root beer-centric brand is now into a new growth phase after years of stabilizing efforts following its purchase. Most recently A&W launched a new franchise information website and initiated a progressive digital media strategy. 

Globally, the chain has almost 1,000 locations, including 630 in the U.S. Between the 2011 acquisition and the end of 2017, average sales increased more than 30 percent.

The northwest Ohio franchisee, Rooty's Family Restaurants LLC, currently owns a Delphos, Ohio, A&W location. Groundbreaking for the first restaurant in the current deal will take place in Lima, Ohio, in April, with an anticipated Independence Day opening. The additional seven units will open within an hour-and-half drive of Lima. 
"Consumers love the A&W brand, and I love that it's owned by restaurant operators," Rooty's principal Don Unruh said in the release. "A&W leadership knows how to make decisions today that we're all prepared to live with tomorrow. As franchisees, we provide input to every decision that affects the brand."

Unruh is a former 30-unit Taco Bell franchisee who left the chain three years ago to purchase the Delphos A&W. Unruh said his A&W venture thus far has also involved his son, who manages the Delphos location. The chain's franchisees are often families, Bazner said in a recent interview with QSRweb

A&W celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019, and is inviting customers to share memorable stories and photos involving the brand for a book to mark the chain's centennial. 

Entries can be submitted online or by using the hashtag #MugMemory on social media thru Feb. 28. Stories selected for the book will be accompanied by citations for contributors, who will receive 100th Anniversary Collector's Mugs.

The book will be published next year, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Disabled American Veterans, a nod to the brand's origins at a roadside stand in Lodi, California, that introduced a new beverage — root beer — during a parade to honor World War I veterans. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Franchising & Growth, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Systems / Technology

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