Carlson Sells $2.7B TGI Fridays Chain

The global hospitality company sold the iconic restaurant brand in order to focus more energy and resources on its hotel and travel businesses.

Carlson, the Minnetonka-based hospitality giant, announced Tuesday that it has agreed to sell TGI Fridays to two New York-based investment firms for an undisclosed sum.
 
It’s no surprise that Carlson was looking for a suitor for the casual dining business: In November, the company said it hired Minneapolis-based investment firm Piper Jaffray to serve as financial advisor for a possible transaction.
 
TGI Fridays was sold to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners in a deal that is expected to close by July. Sentinel will be the restaurant chain’s majority shareholder.
 
Founded in 1965 in New York City, TGI Fridays was acquired by Carlson in 1975 when the brand had just 12 restaurants. Since then the restaurant has grown to over 900 locations throughout 60 countries and reported sales of $2.7 billion last year.
 
“We are proud of the Fridays brand and strong marketplace momentum that has been created over the past nearly four decades,” Carlson President and CEO Trudy Rautio said in a statement. “This transaction is a win for all parties and we are excited and confident that under Sentinel’s ownership Fridays will continue to experience significant growth and capitalize on new opportunities.”
 
Carlson said that TGI Fridays will continue to be run by its established management team and led by President and CEO Nick Shepherd.
 
According to Rautio, the sale frees up resources for Carlson to increase focus on growing its hotel and travel businesses.
 
TGI Fridays, which also includes the brands Fridays FrontRow Sports Grill and Fridays American Bar, employs more than 70,000 people.
 
Carlson has more than 1,340 hotels in operation or development, including the brands Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson Red, Park Inn, Quorvus Collection, and Country Inns & Suites, among others. The company employs about 178,000 people throughout 150 countries.
 
It recently debuted new hotel brands and has also been expanding aggressively in Asia.