Princeton Equity Backs Ellie Mental Health, Plus More Bold Deals | Franchise Mergers and Acquisitions

Princeton Equity Group made a strategic investment in Ellie Mental Health, an operator and franchisor of outpatient mental health clinics. Founded in 2015 by Erin Pash and Kyle Keller, Ellie has 20 clinics open and serves approximately 20,000 patients, and has more than 250 franchise locations in development across 26 states. Princeton’s investment will support the brand’s rapid growth across the US in both corporate and franchised clinics, and Pash and Keller will continue to lead the business. Princeton Equity Group won a 2022 Dealmakers Award for acquiring seven franchisors for $175 million total enterprise value since July 1, 2020, including D1 Training and Card My Yard. Look for more coverage about Ellie Mental Health in the June/July issue of Franchise Times Magazine.

Private equity firm Olympus Partners purchased Excel Fitness Holdingsone of the biggest PlanetFitness franchise groups with more than 90 clubs, from Altamont Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount. Excel is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and serves nearly 750,000 members in six markets including Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Northwest Arkansas, Raleigh-Durham, Tulsa and Virginia.

Driven Brands expanded its auto glass offering in the US with its acquisition of All Star Glass. Founded by Sam Scharaga more than 40 years ago, All Star Glass is one of the largest family-owned auto glass companies in the US with more than 30 company-owned locations. This acquisition bolsters Driven’s existing North American footprint of more than 300 glass locations. Driven Brands won a 2022 Dealmakers Award for its record-setting initial public offering on January 14, 2021, with Roark Capital exiting. This allowed Driven to acquire its 100th car wash and also focus on the quick-lube business.

United Franchise Group added Office Evolution, which will exist under its newly formed Coworks Division along with Venture X, another UFG-owned coworking company. With this merger, Coworks became the largest privately owned franchisor in the coworking industry. The brands will operate separately under the umbrella. UFG tapped Jason Anderson to lead Coworks as president. Anderson has held a variety of roles in his decade-plus career with UFG, including president of Venture X and Accurate Franchising. Anderson also recently became UFG’s chief strategy officer and overseas franchise sales, marketing, PR and legal functions. UFG also recently promoted Chief Development Officer Michael White to lead Venture X as president.

Lawrence Johnston, former CEO of Fortune 50 company Albertons Inc., inked a deal to acquire a majority stake in The Peach Cobbler Factory, a 10-unit dessert chain with more than 100 signed franchise agreements. Johnston will partner with Greg George, Peach Cobbler’s CEO, to accelerate franchise growth with the goal of bringing the concept to “millions of people across America and beyond,” Johnston said in a release. Juan and Tamira Edgerton created The Peach Cobbler Factory in 2013 and partnered with George in July 2021. Since then, the company has signed franchise agreements for more than 100 locations in 15 states. The Edgertons have dived their interest in the company to Johnston as a part of the transaction, but they will remain advisers and franchisees. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

In its third merger this year, United Real Estate Group merged with Platinum Realty, which expanded its national footprint to five states and seven major Midwest markets. This deal follows United’s previous mergers with Leading Edge Real Estate Group, Texas United Realty, Virtual Properties Realty, Benchmark Realty and Charles Rutenberg Realty Fort Lauderdale. This merger also grows United’s agent count to nearly 20,000 nationwide. Founded by Scott DeNeve, Platinum Realty was an early adopter of a 100 percent commission model and grew to 13 offices. Platinum will retain its brand and agent compensation plan following the merger.

Coldwell Banker Realty acquired the franchisee affiliate Coldwell Banker Bain, including 1,300 agents in 37 offices. Mike Grady, President and CEO of Coldwell Banker Bain, will remain with the newly combined company, which will continue to operate under the same banner name. This deal will expand Coldwell Banker’s footprint to 642 offices in 55 US markets, with a combined closed sales volume of nearly $204 billion based on 2021 sales.

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