Wetzel’s compass of bringing “pretzels to the people, wherever they are,” as Fischer put it, is something the brand amplified in recent years as it spreads outside its heavy mall footprint. Growing sales haven't hurt, either.
The chain's same-store sales lifted 11.3 percent last year, building upon a nearly 24 percent jump the year prior versus 2019. That gave Wetzel’s a 35 percent three-year stack headed into 2023.
It opened 29 new stores last year, including an LAX airport spot, and debuted a partnership with Macy’s, where the brand exists within the retailer’s boxes. Additionally, Wetzel’s development pipeline reached about 60 units as it looked toward new venues and formats, including expanding a fleet of food trucks, as well as units inside WalMarts, Macy’s, nontraditional, malls (where 75 percent of locations today are) and through a partnership with the Phillips 66 family of convenience stores. Franchise unit growth in 2023 was projected to come in at a more than 50 percent increase over 2022. Roughly 40 units total are expected to open.
Also, in August, the concept announced the opening of a co-branded drive-thru location with Thirst, a Utah-based beverage company.
In November, MTY Food Group, parent of Papa Murphy's and several other chains, announced it was spending $207 million to acquire Wetzel's. The California-based snack chain entered the deal with more than 350 locations in 25 states, Canada, and Panama, with 90 percent of those franchised. In the past year, sales hit $245 million.
Wetzel's was previously owned by private equity firm CenterOak Partners, which bought the chain in 2016.