Franchisor BRIX sees niche in healthier lifestyle

Multi-concept franchising company BRIX Holdings LLC of Dallas recently acquired two more brands, expanding its portfolio to five concepts.

BRIX added buffet chain Souper Salad last month and boutique salad brand Greenz eight months ago, expanding on its holdings of Red Mango frozen yogurt, Smoothie Factory and RedBrick Pizza.

Joe Vitrano, BRIX chief executive, said in an interview that the additions offer the company more options for its franchisees.

BRIX was created earlier this year by former Taco Bell Corp. chair and chief executive John Antioco, who bought the Red Mango chain in 2008 with private-equity firm CIC Partners. Antioco last year took majority ownership of Red Mango and also acquired Smoothie Factory and RedBrick Pizza.

Brix acquires Souper Salad and Greenz

Red Mango parent reveals plans for two newest brands

More mergers and acquisitions at NRN.com

Vitrano spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about the recent acquisitions and the future for BRIX:

How do you see Souper Salad and Greenz fitting into your portfolio of Red Mango, Smoothie Factory and RedBrick Pizza?
They both embrace where BRIX is headed as a company, trying to be a multi-platform franchisor. The brands revolve around health, taste and style, which fit into the emerging consumer market. Everybody desires a healthier lifestyle nowadays. All our brands, including these two, use high-quality ingredients and better-for-you-choices than the usual burger chains that are emerging all over. We thought they would be the perfect addition to our arsenal of franchise brands.

What made them attractive candidates?
They are both pretty small boxes. Greenz is fairly tiny, about 800 square feet. Souper Salad, which is a buffet, is around 3,500 to 4,000 square feet.

How does this fit into BRIX franchising strategy?
We do have some Red Mango units that are becoming – for the lack of a better word, two-in-ones – with Red Mango-Smoothie Factory juice bars. We also have some Smoothie Factory franchisees looking to put the Red Mango medallion on their building and sell Red Mango products. This is offering more options.

What’s the next step?
The first thing we are going to do is open up a Greenz, which is a healthier-for-you concept, and add the Red Mango juices. Within the same real estate and box size, we’re trying to offer our franchisees options that will help grow their sales and their profitability. And in many cases, it will not bring in that many more different SKUs [stock keeping units] of product.

How does RedBrick Pizza fit into the mix?
RedBrick is a national franchise brand. There are about 14 units now. We have five under construction, and we’re signing a lease for one in New York that will be our flagship training store. Of all the pizza concepts emerging in the fast-casual segment … we thought RedBrick was the healthiest alternative. We use an exclusive organic sauce and all of our meats are low in nitrates. There is no butter in the house. We have a whole-wheat dough and offer a gluten-free alternative.

In this business climate, what is the strength of being a franchisor with multiple brands?
Everybody is struggling with labor and how to manage different units. We have a good core group of executives who have both franchisee and franchisor experience. We don’t need to create a new administrative model to oversee each of these brands. We have about 40 employees – including our field personnel – and our upper executive team manages the brands. … It’s all housed here in Dallas with a satellite office up in New York. We’re very efficient.

What are you most excited about?
It’s not a secret that several of the brands have down-sized over the past several years because of the economy, competition or past management – whatever the reason. We felt these brands fit into our portfolio. We can reposition these brands with décor, imaging or new food products and news.

What’s next?
You’re going to be seeing us hitting the streets pretty hard over the next 60 to 90 days with some very exciting new franchisee offers.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless