Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to go public

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After a banner year, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to go public later in 2022, according to Bloomberg.

The fast and scorching casual could be valued at at least $1 billion, the source told the outlet. Tropical Smoothie would work with Morgan Stanley and Jefferies Financial Group.

Last year marked the 10th consecutive year of positive same-store sales growth and the opening of its 1,000th store. The brand now has more than 1,040 stores nationwide. Comps were up 22% year-over-year and 29.4% from 2019. Digital sales were up 76%, fueled by the rollout of customizable online and mobile ordering.

Tropical Smoothie also opened a record 133 new stores in 2021 and signed an unprecedented 332 new deals, with over 70% of those deals coming from existing franchisees. the QSR 50 ranked the brand 45th among the nation’s quick-service chains by U.S. sales in 2020, with $690 million.

It was also a great year for menu innovation. Tropical Smoothie’s Cajun Shrimp Wrap and Cajun Shrimp Salad became the most popular LTOs in company history, and 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 have been quietly breaking sales and growth records, thanks to our amazing franchisees who have a passion for this brand and want to open more locations in our target markets.”

Sources told Bloomberg that plans for the fast casual could change. But if they stay on track, Tropical Smoothie would join a rapidly growing list of channels that have decided to go public. After years of near-nonexistent IPO noise, Krispy Kreme, Dutch Bros Coffee, Sweetgreen, Portillo’s and First Watch have all started trading in 2021. Panera Brands, MOD Pizza and Fogo de Chão have announced plans also file IPOs.

Private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners acquired Tropical Smoothie in 2020, when the chain had about 870 units.

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