16/09/2013 - 15:48

Croissant Express acquired by quick service investors

16/09/2013 - 15:48

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Croissant Express acquired by quick service investors

Perth-based fast food chain Croissant Express has been acquired by a specialist investor in the quick service sector led by former Hungry Jack's CEO, Tim Tighe.

The sale, for an undisclosed sum, was settled last week and involved the 100 per cent exit of the previous ownership, including majority shareholder Banksia Capital and management players Jonathan Huston and Glenn Evans.

Croissant Express has 27 outlets, operating mainly in Western Australia. All except its headquarters store are franchises.

The new owner Consolidated Foods' acquisition is led by Mr Tighe*, who was CEO of Hungry Jack’s for six years until 2011 and has held senior positions at McDonald’s South-East Asian operations. Mr Tighe’s key management partner is understood to be Sean Tomlinson, another executive with significant experience in the quick service sector.

It is understood Consolidated Foods is backed by Singaporean investors. 

Mr Tighe said in a statement that the company is taking a long-term view of where the business should be and said that opening more stores in the metropolitan area, regional Western Australia, the eastern states and overseas is already on the company's horizon.

"Croissant Express is born and bred in Perth and with 15 stores in the greater CBD, there's not another retailer with as large a footprint as it has. Now it's time for the business to expand," said Mr Tighe.

"What we're excited about is the next stage in the development and transformation of the business. We're looking at opening stores not just up and down the coast but also in areas where there are small industrial centres like Joondalup and Canning Vale. In regional Western Australia, we've got plans to expand into Esperance, Albany, Kalgoorlie, South Hedland and Geraldton.

"We've got one store in Brisbane and there's no reason we wouldn't add more, we want to move into the Melbourne market as well and cast our eyes overseas," Mr Tighe added.

Mr Tighe pointed out that WA has a history developing successful food concepts like Dome, Hungry Jack's, Red Rooster and Chicken Treat starting here, doing well in the local market and then successful expanding interstate.

"Economically speaking, WA is a very dynamic place, a lot of businesses have done very well in this market. We think that Croissant Express is a unique business proposition because as a franchise it's low investment but offers high returns. The introduction of seven day trading locally has also changed the retail landscape and created more opportunities for growth."

Mr Huston and Mr Evans partnered with private equity firm Foundation Capital to buy Croissant Express in 2004 from Geoff Cross and Maurice O’Connor.

Private equity group Banksia bought into the business in 2010, when it had 18 outlets, following the decision by Foundation to exit.

It is the second major sell-down by Banksia in recent months. In July it sold its interests in Cool Clear Water to UK-based Waterlogic, which paid $60 million for the whole business

Cool Clear Water was Banksia's first purchase, in 2008, taking a majority stake in the point-of-use, installed water filter company with a $7.5 million spend.

It has also been on the acquisition trail. This year it bought into MTi Group, a mining consumables company.

Croissant Express was a 2011 Business News Rising Stars award winner.

 

*Postscript 10-6-2014 It is understood Mr Tighe was appointed CEO of Croissant Express at the time of the deal. He has since left the company. Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show he was the sole director of Croissant Express Holdings Pty Ltd between September 9 2013 and March 17 2014.

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