Wetzel’s Pretzels, the innovator in the fresh-baked pretzel category, announced Tuesday that CenterOak Partners, a leading Dallas-based private equity group with significant consumer brand, business service and industrial sector holdings, has purchased a majority stake in the company. Wetzel’s CEO, Bill Phelps, will remain in his current role, with co-founder Rick Wetzel retaining a seat on the company’s board of directors.

The sale brings to a close Levine Leichtman Capital Partners’ investment into the brand, which took place in 2007. Levine Leichtman Capital Partners secured seven times its original investment on the deal.

Wetzel’s Pretzels 2016 highlights include:

  • Year-to-date same store sales increase of 6.7 percent
  • System wide sales estimated at $165 million
  • The opening of flagship locations in New York City’s Fulton Center and the Mall of America

“From rolling the first Wetzel’s Pretzel in our kitchens more than 23 years ago, our vision of serving fresh, delicious pretzels in a fun atmosphere has remained the same,” Phelps says. “We’re thrilled to have found a business partner in CenterOak Partners that believes in that vision, and understands our top priority is the profitability of our franchise partners.”

Wetzel’s Pretzels currently operates more than 300 company-owned and franchise locations in 28 states and six countries.

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