Just Salad vetting bankers for auction
Fast-casual chain Just Salad is interviewing investment banks to start a sale process, a source close to its thinking tells Axios.
Driving the news: Just Salad checks several boxes of an attractive investment profile: growth, profitability, and a focus on healthy food and sustainability.
Details: The company will likely sell a minority stake to either a private equity firm or strategic, with the process concluding by summer or fall, the source says.
- The founders continue to hold a majority of the company, while past investors include the parent of Panda Express and Closed Loop Partners.
- Panda Express hopes to hold on to its investment and perhaps even increase it, the source says.
- Money from a sale will provide liquidity to the other investors on the cap table and growth capital.
By the numbers: Just Salad's revenue was north of $150 million in 2023, up 50% from a year earlier, while EBITDA is just over $15 million, the source says.
- Revenue will climb at least 30% in 2024 and EBITDA will increase to about $20 million, the source says.
- The company generates over 50% cash-on-cash return.
The intrigue: Just Salad also owns all of its locations, nearly 80, with the possibility of opening about 20 more this year. It does not franchise.
- That's unique to high-growth restaurant concepts, which tend to embrace an asset-light or franchise model.
- For now, the company wants to continue to own its locations for quality control and to continue to refine the concept.
Of note: Just Salad is one of the largest Certified B Corp. restaurants in the U.S. and has a number of initiatives such as a reusable bowl program.