Special to the Independent
Flynn Restaurant Group LP (“Flynn”), the largest franchise operator in the world, announced it has acquired a highly-successful Planet Fitness franchise from Alder Partners, LLC, which operates 37 locations in two major markets in the United States. A significant investment for Flynn, it is the operator’s first foray into an adjacent sector outside of the restaurant space since its founding in 1999. Fifth Third Securities facilitated on both sides of the transaction, serving as both the sell-side advisor for Alder Partners and left lead arranger and administrative agent for Flynn. Coinciding with its entry into fitness, Flynn Restaurant Group also announced its rebranding to Flynn Group, a change which reflects its evolved vision to be the premier franchise operator in the world, spanning multiple industries and countries.
With leading positions in some of the most recognized consumer brands, Flynn Group has an unrivaled track record of successfully scaling multi-unit consumer concepts. Its focus has been on building a portfolio of dominant and distinct, valuebased brands and supporting them with a unique structure and culture to deliver superior and sustained risk-adjusted returns. With its rebranding to Flynn Group, the operator is now in a unique position to tap into new, complimentary markets at scale, with no distraction to its core restaurant businesses. The Planet Fitness acquisition is Flynn Group’s third major move in 2023, which was highlighted by significant international deals including Wendy’s and Pizza Hut in Australia.
“We’re incredibly excited to enter a new sector and, with it, our third chapter of growth at Flynn,” said Greg Flynn, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Flynn Group. “For over a decade, our focus was exclusively on building our Applebee’s business, and establishing best practices in structure, culture and systems. Chapter two was about diversification across the restaurant industry to mirror its composition, welcoming new brands such as Taco Bell, Panera, Arby’s, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut to the Flynn family. Chapter three will layer on two new growth channels – international restaurants and adjacent, consumer-facing franchised businesses – such as fitness – to our core domestic restaurant business. We are eager to accelerate growth across all channels and to bring our full capabilities to bear to drive even more value for our franchise systems and customers alike.”
When evaluating potential complementary segments for expansion, the fast-growing consumer fitness category was a primary target for Flynn Group. With an investment thesis built on concepts that offer consumers a substantial value proposition and expertise in operating multi-unit and multi-state consumer facing franchised businesses, the Planet Fitness brand aligned seamlessly with Flynn Group, leading it ultimately to Alder Partners. One of Planet Fitness’ original and most respected franchisees, Alder Partners’ footprint spans two markets – Atlanta and Boston – with 37 clubs. With Flynn Group’s acquisition, the portfolio is now positioned for substantial growth via new club development and follow-on acquisitions.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a more respected and dedicated franchisee in the Planet Fitness system than Alder,” added Greg Flynn. “Under Stan DeMartinis’ leadership, Alder grew its Planet Fitness portfolio to 37 clubs, and did so without wavering from its core values, which are lock step with our own. We are excited to have found such a great partner to enter the Planet Fitness brand and we are looking forward to an outstanding partnership.” The Alder management team will continue to run the business under the Flynn Group umbrella, with its founder, Stan DeMartinis, Jr., leading the team as Brand President.
Alder Partners has been part of the Planet Fitness system since 2007, when the family run business converted its World Gym location in East Boston, MA to Planet Fitness. Alder Partners saw rapid growth over the next several years after signing an Area Development Agreement (ADA) in 2010 with Planet Fitness to develop the Atlanta DMA. Over the past 12 years, Alder has organically developed 31 additional clubs in Massachusetts and Georgia. In 2020, it acquired six additional locations from the PollyDot Corp. in MA.
“It was a very emotional decision to weigh the benefits of selling my family’s business to an outside party,” said Stan DeMartinis, Jr., Managing Partner, Alder Partners. “After a series of conversations with Greg and his team, it became evident that they would allow us to grow on many different levels. I am thrilled to have found a partner who aligns with our core values, investment horizon, and that’s dedicated to helping accelerate our growth and bring an affordable health and wellness experience to more and more people. We believe we have the foundation of a uniquely differentiated platform that does not exist in the Planet Fitness ecosystem today and are excited about the future with Flynn Group.”
Under the Flynn Group umbrella, the business will continue with growth in its current ADA with plans to open three additional Planet Fitness clubs within the coming four months. One of the earliest franchisees in the Planet Fitness system, Alder has deep connections to the Planet Fitness corporate team and is a trusted advisor to other franchisees as Stan DeMartinis is an active, founding board member of the Planet Fitness Independent Franchisee Council (PFIFC), an organization in which he has held various leadership roles including a multi-year term as President. Flynn Group will rely heavily on those relationships and Alder’s expertise in this sector, including an unmatched team of dedicated fitness operators, to execute on the growth strategy and to ensure the established culture of success established by the DeMartinis Family, continues.
Flynn Group LP (formerly Flynn Restaurant Group) is the largest franchise operator in the world. Founded by Chairman & CEO Greg Flynn in 1999, Flynn Restaurant Group currently owns and operates 2,600 restaurants and fitness clubs in 44 states and two countries, generating $4.5 billion in sales and employing 75,000 people. It’s affiliate, Flynn Properties Inc., owns 121 hotels in the United States and Mexico, including 109 franchised hotels. More information is available at www.flynn.com.
Alder Partners, LLC (Alder) is a privately held multi-unit franchisee of Planet Fitness. Alder Partners is a family run business that currently owns and operates a total of 37 Planet Fitness clubs in Georgia and Massachusetts. As an independent franchise the company was built on core values. Those values include having a customer centric mindset, unwavering perseverance, integrity, loyalty, gratitude and being family oriented. Founded in 1992 in Dover, NH, Planet Fitness is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the world by number of members and locations. As of June 30, 2023, Planet Fitness had more than 18.4 million members and 2,472 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Panama, Mexico and Australia. The Company’s mission is to enhance people’s lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone®. More than 90% of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent business men and women.