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    Report: Qdoba Could be Sold Again

  • The Mexican fast casual was last dealt in March 2018.

    QDOBA Mexican Eats
    Plant-based meat has been a Qdoba menu staple this past year.

    It appears Qdoba could be on the move again. Bloomberg reported this week that Apollo Global Management Inc., which acquired the fast casual in March 2018 from Jack in the Box for $305 million in cash, is exploring a sale of the 750-unit brand.

    Qdoba’s chief executive officer, Keith Guillbault, sent an emailed statement to Bloomberg saying, “We’re extremely grateful for the guidance, strategy and resources Apollo has provided. Now, as Apollo explores a potential sale, it shows the health and strength of the Qdoba brand as we continue to focus on what we do best—creating flavor that our customers love and cultivating a culture that our team members enjoy every day.”

    READ MORE: How one Qdoba franchisee is winning the labor war.

    Guillbault took the reins as CEO last May following the brand’s sale and transition into an independent company. He previously served as brand president and chief operating officer—a title Guillbault held for about two years.

    Bloomberg said New York-based Apollo is working with advisers on a potential sale and could earn as much as $550 million, including debt, according to a “person familiar with the matter.” The chain generates about $50 million in annual EBITDA—a 25 percent year-over-year increase, the source said. They added Qdoba’s same-store sales are up 4 percent over the same period.

    The sales price would present a valuation of roughly 11 times trailing EBITDA, or an 80 percent appreciation in value.

    When Jack in the Box acquired Qdoba in 2003, it had just 85 locations in 16 states, with $65 million in system-wide sales. It reported more than $820 million in sales in fiscal 2017 at 700-plus stores in 47 states.

    Apollo is the same firm that made billions off CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, before dealing the brands to Roark Capital in 2013. It took Chuck E. Cheese private for $1.3 billion in 2014. The company attempted to bring the latter’s parent company, CEC Entertainment Inc., public via a reverse merger in July. But the move fell apart.

    In Jack in the Box’s 14-year run over Qdoba, the fast casual’s net unit grew at a compound annual rate of 16 percent.

    Since being moved, Apollo has opened a new headquarters in San Diego and started offering plant-based meat on its menu with Impossible fajita bowls and burritos.

    Qdoba debuted the new HQ, “Qdoba Flavor Central,” in the space formerly occupied by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Susan Daggett, ex-interim CFO with Noodles & Company, was also appointed along with Guilbault in March. Earlier that month, the chain said it planned to add about 100 full-time positions to its corporate team, including roles ranging from specialists to executive management in a variety of departments, such as: Finance & Accounting, Human Resources, Information Technology, Marketing, Supply Chain and Restaurant Development.