Fleet Feet is under new ownership.
The 93-door national chain of franchised specialty running stores has been acquired by the current management team, led by President Jeff Phillips, in partnership with Raleigh, N.C.-based Investors Management Corp., which also owns the Golden Corral franchise.
Tom Raynor, the longtime CEO of the chain and primary shareholder, will exit the business as part of the move.
Carrboro, N.C.-based Fleet Feet will continue to be run by the remaining management team, which plans to make substantive investments into the business, alongside additional investment from IMC.
“Fleet Feet and IMC are united by a common business culture and are both passionate about building and growing great brands,” Phillips said in the statement. “This partnership will allow our team to continue working with our franchisees and vendor partners to move the brand forward and grow the business into the future.”
The Specialty Retail Development Co., an independent organization formed in 2007 by Raynor, Phillips and others to purchase existing stores and transition employees into franchise owners, will also be acquired in the deal. The SRDC, also headquartered in Carrboro, is Fleet Feet’s largest franchisee, operating 17 stores nationwide.
The deal is expected to close in the next 30 days.
After a year of exploring transition options, Raynor said the partnership with IMC made the most sense. “It achieves some of my long-term goals in keeping the culture of the company, and it didn’t burden the business with debt, so they could achieve financial growth plans,” he said. “I’m really excited for the management team and satisfied that we had an unbelievable 20 years. I’m ready to move on and watch from afar what these guys accomplish.”