Tabbassum Mumtaz, CEO of Ampex Brands, compared the company’s acquisition of Au Bon Pain to becoming a coach or chef with a dream of owning the restaurant he works in. The takeover of the 171-location concept from Panera Bread is the next exciting challenge for Mumtaz.
“Your dreams grow as you grow, you think about running a store, you think about running a store, then you think about multiple locations, and then you think about the whole brand,” Mumtaz said.
The leader of more than 400 restaurants and convenience stores said 2020 was a great year for the company and the acquisition was a mix of opportunity and passion for the brand.
“The timing is good. Last year has been great for us as a QSR operator so this was a great opportunity,” said Mumtaz. “Every time a great opportunity presents itself and it connects with us, we look into it. We’ve looked closely at a few other brands, but I think we’re all excited about the brand’s strength and connection with consumers. “
Ampex Brands, founded by Mumtaz in 2005, is a longtime franchisee of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and 7-Eleven.
As for the passion, it wasn’t just the next entrepreneurial step for Mumtaz and the team. He said true enthusiasm for the brand is another driving force.
“Just owning a brand is not something you want to do – you have to connect with the brand and it’s one that my team is really connected to. We visited almost every store. it excites the whole team, “said Mumtaz.
The takeover should contribute 10 percent to the company’s sales on the first day and grant franchising rights to 131 additional locations.
Ericka Garza runs Au Bon Pain
Ericka Garza is the new brand president at Au Bon Pain.
At the top of the franchise is Ericka Garza, Brand President of Au Bon Pain. She has a deep career in franchise development with senior positions at Boston’s Pizza where she served as Director of International Development and then at Yum Brands where she was Growth Director at Pizza Hut. She said her # 1 job now is meeting everyone.
“We inherited a really great culture, but new leadership brings a different culture with it. We are in a phase where we are all getting to know each other,” said Garza. “My goal is to go into the markets and meet the franchisees and team members and talk to customers. One of my top priorities is to meet everyone.”
Given her background, the next item on her list is some serious growth for the concept. Au Bon Pain was mostly a non-traditional real estate concept, but with the new leadership comes a new way of thinking.
“It’s growing tremendously and expanding our presence globally and domestically. Second, we’re really talking about being able to change some of our current prototypes. Today we’re a nontraditional format. I can imagine this is different.” Location, a different appearance and a lot of innovation, “said Garza.
Brian Bacica, Chief Operating Officer, is also joining the company to work on consolidating the business and leading future growth. He has a hospitality background at Disneyland, Universal Studios and most recently was CEO of Peak Even Services, a party rental company. Beth Collins also joins as the first global chief marketing officer for Ampex and Au Bon Pain. She previously held senior marketing positions at Raising Cane’s, Twin Peaks and Lucky Strike.
Read more about the ongoing trend of savvy franchisees becoming franchisors – and how such acquisitions have played out in the past – in the September issue of Franchise Times.