Coming off a record year, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is reportedly planning to go public later in 2022, according to Bloomberg.
The red-hot fast casual could be valued at at least $1 billion, sourced told the media outlet. Tropical Smoothie is said to be working with Morgan Stanley and Jefferies Financial Group.
Last year marked the chain's 10th straight year of positive same-store sales growth and the opening of its 1,000th location. The brand now has more than 1,040 stores nationwide. Comps grew 22 percent year-over-year and 29.4 percent over 2019. Digital sales mixed 76 percent, fueled by the roll out of customizable online and mobile ordering.
Tropical Smoothie also opened a record-breaking 133 new stores in 2021 and signed an unprecedented 332 new agreements, with more than 70 percent of those deals coming from existing franchisees. The QSR 50 ranked the brand as the 45th-biggest quick-service chain in the country in terms of 2020 U.S. sales, with $690 million.
It was also a big year when it came to menu innovation. Tropical Smoothie's Cajun Shrimp Wrap and Cajun Shrimp Salad became the most popular LTO in company history and the Mango Berry Cosmo Smoothie became the best-selling LTO smoothie of all time.
“I like to say we’re the biggest brand you’ve never heard of,” CEO Charles Watson said after the chain surpassed 1,000 units. “We’ve been quietly crushing sales and growth records, thanks to our incredible franchisees who have a passion for this brand and want to open more locations across our target markets.”
Sources told Bloomberg that the fast casual's plans could change. But if they remain on track, Tropical Smoothie would join a quickly growing list of chains that have decided to go public. After years of little-to-no IPO noise, Krispy Kreme, Dutch Bros Coffee, Sweetgreen, Portillo's, and First Watch, all started trading on the stock market in 2021. Panera Brands, MOD Pizza, and Fogo de Chão announced their intentions to file IPOs, as well.
Private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners acquired Tropical Smoothie in 2020, back when the chain had around 870 units.