Firm will remain based in Pasadena; No plans to lay off any of its 3,000 employees
Los Angeles private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, which owned Wetzel’s for nine years, sold its majority stake to CenterOak Partners for an undisclosed amount.
Wetzel’s will remain based in Pasadena and there are no plans to lay off any of the chain’s 3,000 employees, Bill Phelps, Wetzel’s chief executive and co-founder, told the Los Angeles Times.
Wetzel’s has more than 300 company-owned and franchise locations in 28 states and six countries.
CenterOak Partners LLC focuses on making control-oriented investments in middle market companies.
“We are excited to partner with Wetzel’s and its tenured and successful management team,” says Randall Fojtasek, Managing Partner of CenterOak. “It has demonstrated consistent, stable growth in its more than two decades of operation, and has developed an exceptional brand. Our approach of identifying opportunities for operational improvement and experience expanding companies’ product offerings and reach makes us well suited to support Wetzel’s and its management team’s strategic vision.”
Phelps adds: “We’ve achieved significant growth since 1994, but we know that there is opportunity to further develop our brand. CenterOak’s team has a long track record of building value in consumer companies as well as partnering with companies to expand their footprint within the U.S. We look forward to leveraging the firm’s expertise to continue to support and grow our network of franchise partners and to bring innovative new products to market.”
Previously, CenterOak Partners invested in Wetzel’s Pretzels with capital from its $420 million CenterOak Equity Fund I, L.P.
Wetzel’s overall 2015 revenue was $165 million, Jennifer Schuler, Wetzel’s chief marketing officer, told the LA Business Journal.
“They’ve been happy with our performance so we weren’t quick to exit but the time came to make that transition,” Schuler was quoted as saying. The company has seen consistent growth with same-store sales up 6.5 percent, the highest its seen in the past 10 years, she added.