Ashtons advise investors on 32-site franchise resale transaction

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The franchising and corporate teams at Ashtons Legal have advised a US investor on their purchase of 32 Papa Johns’ stores in the UK.

HB Pizza Ltd, the UK investment arm of one of the US’ largest Papa John’s franchisees, PJ Restaurants, has acquired 32 sites in the North of England. The multi-million pound purchase was partially funded by Santander Bank, with the remainder coming from HB Pizza’s US operations. Ashtons’ involvement in the transaction included negotiating the franchising arrangements, advising on the TUPE implications of more than 450 transferring employees and workers, settling new sub-leases for each site, advising the purchaser on two new banking facilities and security from Santander, and associated corporate and transactional advice. The purchase was carried out in phases and spanned 12 months from inception to completion.

Damian Humphrey, Ashtons’ head of franchising led the transaction and was supported by David Sloman from the firm’s corporate and commercial side, Colin Makin in employment, Geoff Hazelwood advising on the banking and finance aspects and Ian Hylton on the commercial property side.

Damian says: “We are delighted to have assisted HB Pizza on their entry and investment into the UK franchise market. Stuart (Hunt, CEO of PJ Restaurants) and his team were a fantastic to work with. As experienced multi-site franchise owners in the US they will bring considerable expertise and resources to the Papa John’s network in the

UK, benefitting the brand and consumers. We wish them all the best and look forward to assisting with other deals in the pipeline”.

He adds: “The scope and complexity of this project really showcases Ashtons’ strength in depth across the business client group, bringing together specialist lawyers working seamlessly together in different locations to provide a complete service to our clients. We would be delighted to speak to any other multi-site franchisees or purchasers about similar projects”.

Stuart Hunt, CEO of PJ Restaurants commented: “This acquisition cements our foothold in the UK market and is a great springboard for further expansion within the Papa John’s network. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Ashtons Legal on these acquisitions. Damian and his team have been professional and responsive throughout the entire process, they have offered expert advice and steered us in the right direction as we navigate a new region for our business. Ashtons’ handling of these transactions was a great reflection of their franchising expertise and their strength in a number of other commercial legal specialties. We look forward to continuing our relationship as we execute on our expansion strategy”.

Stephens & Bolton advised Papa Johns and Blake Morgan acted for Santander.


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