Sonic Drive-In, the restaurant chain famous for its variety of soft drinks and old-fashioned service model, has a new parent company. Inspire Brands, which also operates Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, is purchasing the chain for $2.3 billion, according to CNN Money, adding Sonic’s both beloved-and-maligned items like Ocean Water and green apple-flavored slushies to its meaty, curly fries- and Buffalo-tot-filled portfolio.
The deal is the latest in a trend of fast-food consolidation, following Burger King’s purchase of Popeye’s and Panera Bread’s takeover of Au Bon Pan. Inspire Brands was created earlier this year after Arby’s $3 billion acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings, and it counts Atlanta-based private-equity firm Roark Capital as its majority owner.
In many ways, folding Sonic under the Inspire umbrella makes sense: Among BWW’s culinary mashups are Mountain Dew-citrus coated and Doritos-dusted chicken wings, both of which would fit in on Sonic’s drive-thru style menu (and vice versa). Sonic’s ad campaign — usually featuring two dudes unapologetically enjoying fast food in the front seat of their car — dovetails with Arby’s masculine, Ving Rhames-voiced “we have the meats” campaign that launched in 2013 and is credited with boosting the chain’s sales by 20 percent over the next three years. A new line of television ads, meanwhile, positions B-Dubs as a safe haven for football-loving men who are desperate to get away from family obligations. (Whether the “two guys” get a more-macho overhaul remains to be seen, though “Sonic is a highly differentiated brand and is an ideal fit for the Inspire family,” chief executive officer Paul Brown says in a statement provided to CNBC.)
In recent months, Buffalo Wild Wings sales have dipped as the sports bar chain has struggled to project a clear identity. Sonic executives will hope their chain’s buyout results in a jumpstart for the business, as CNBC reports same-store sales have been falling for two years. The deal is reportedly scheduled to close by the end of the year.
• Sonic Sold to Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings Owner for $2.3 Billion [CNNM]
• Burger chain Sonic to be acquired by Arby’s parent company in $2.3 billion deal [CNBC]
• How Buffalo Wild Wings Turned Bar Food Into a $3 Billion Deal [E]