Jimmy John Liautaud is the founder of Jimmy John’s, a company he started in 1983, while he was 19 years old. The company currently has 2082 location and generates more than $2 billion in sales. Jimmy Liautaud is, however, no longer running the company.
He sold the majority of the business to Roark Capital, a private equity company located in Atlanta, in 2016, at an estimated $3 billion deal. The deal plus other personal investments left Liautaud’s worth at $ 1.7 billion. Jimmy v currently owns about 35% of the company.
Roark Capital is located in midtown Atlanta, in a forty-one-story skyscraper. His founder, Mr. Aronson, runs an empire that includes a number of ventures including Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Carvel Ice Cream, among others. The private equity firm manages more than $10 billion in assets.
According to Jimmy John Liautaud, the business has been slow and rough lately. Initially, Jimmy John’s was well-known for its delivery services, but now the increase in online delivery services allow customers to get delivery from Jimmy’s company competitors.
The industry (sandwich) is also becoming more and more competitive and concentrated with companies like Firehouse subs having over 1000 locations, Subway with over 24000 locations in the United States, and Jersey Mike’s with 1482 stores, among others.
Roark Capital is already making changes at Jimmy John’s, and in October 2017, it brought in John Shea, the first chief marketing officer at Jimmy John’s. Mr. Shea was previously a Gatorade executive.
The private equity firm is also assisting the company to use data to track everything from the popularity of the items on the menu to the customer satisfaction to the traffic inside every restaurant.
98% of the business’s locations are owned by franchisees that are also buoyant in the industry, and existing franchisees opened 148 new restaurants. Seven hundred thirty-eight additional restaurants are in the pipeline. The cost of opening a Jimmy John’s is far much lower compared to a majority of other fast-food chains.
Roark Capital brings in the data and the analytics into the business, and Jimmy Liautaud’s work is to concentrate on the brand and culture.
According to Liautaud, he feels blessed and does not have the stresses of managing the businesses. He is living life to the fullest. When he is not doing a tasting in the company’s test kitchen, or attending store openings, he can be found on his yacht.
He has a collection of fifty vehicles which he rotates through. He started collecting cars in 2005, and he has continued to do so, and in November 2017, he picked up LaFerrari Aperta, a $2.2 million black Ferrari that is one of just 209. He keeps his vehicle collection in a warehouse at the company’s headquarters.
In October he went deer hunting in Canada with Brock Lesnar, a pro wrestler that Jimmy John’s sponsors. In December he flew to Italy in search of the greatest salami in the globe during a salami tour.
Liautaud says that he is content to have Roark Capital as his boss and that he is in a great position currently. He acknowledges that he built Jimmy John’ s up until he couldn’t do it anymore and that bringing a partner into the business has helped a lot.