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Long John Silver’s Bucks Franchising Trends and Becomes Largest Owner of Its Restaurants

Long John Silver'sLong John Silver’s announced on Monday that it has acquired 76 restaurants from Indiana-based franchisee ServUS. The franchisees’ outlets are located in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan.

“This is an excellent opportunity to continue our brand revitalization,” said Brian Unger, president and COO of Long John Silver’s. Unger is speaking about restaurants swapping the old Cape Cod buildings to a newer nautically themed image. It is adding grilled seafood items to its offerings as well.

The seafood chain franchisor now owns nearly 200 restaurants of the 1,000 in its system. Against industry franchising trends, the franchisor has actually expanded the ratio of its company-owned restaurants. For example, its former owner, Yum Brands, has only 3 percent of the restaurants in its chain that it owns itself. McDonald's has downsized the mix of its company owned restaurants. Burger King also has lowered the number of its company stores. Subway sandwich shops are a hundred percent franchised. So are Dunkin' Donuts stores. 

In contrast, Long John Silver's shifted from a system where restaurants once were a hundred percent owned by franchisees to one with a significant mix of company-owned units. It began acquiring restaurants in late 2015. It now owns 20 percent of the restaurants in its system and is the largest restaurant operator of its own brand.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email