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Sonic Drive-In Sold to Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings Parent Company for $2.3 Billion

The chain has seen sales decline for two years

A Sonic Drive-in Scott Olson/Getty Images

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]

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