• Burger King Parent Buying Firehouse Subs, Office Use on the Rise, GDP Growth Forecasts Shrink Furthe

    Burger King's parent company is buying franchise chain Firehouse Subs. (CoStar)
    Burger King's parent company is buying franchise chain Firehouse Subs. (CoStar)

    By Richard Lawson
    CoStar News

    Burger King Parent Buying Firehouse Subs

    Burger King’s parent company is expanding its footprint in the sandwich sector with a deal to buy Firehouse Subs for $1 billion and promises to increase the brand’s locations.

    Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International said Monday it plans to close on purchasing the Jacksonville, Florida-based sandwich franchise in the coming months using a combination of cash on hand and debt.

    Brothers Chris and Robin Sorenson, both former firefighters, founded the chain in 1994 that has grown to roughly 1,200 locations across 46 states. As part of the business, the company established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation that awards up to 600 grants per quarter to first responders around the country for education, equipment and disaster relief.

    Restaurant Brands said the Firehouse Subs chain is expected to generate about $1.1 billion in revenue this year.

    “We see tremendous potential to accelerate U.S. and international growth at Firehouse Subs with RBI's development expertise, global franchisee network and digital capabilities,” Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands, said in a statement.

    In addition to Burger King, Restaurant Brands owns fried chicken chain Popeyes, which has more than 2,700 locations in the U.S. and around the world. It also owns Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, which has about 5,000 locations, mostly in Canada with some 600 spread primarily between Michigan, Ohio and New York.

    Office Use on the Rise

    Austin, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts, showed the biggest gains in office use last week.

    Most other major metropolitan areas experienced some gain in office use the week that ended Nov. 10, according to Falls Church, Virginia-based security firm Kastle Systems.

    Kastle gathers anonymous employee data from workplaces where it provides access-control technology. While it is only a sampling of buildings by one security company, the data gives a peek into how employees and employers are responding to office use during the pandemic.

    Office use in the Texas capital increased 3.3 percentage points from the previous week to 55.3% and leads the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio metropolitan areas. Houston and Dallas were the only ones of the three to make a gain.

    Houston is also the only other major Texas city above the halfway point, with 52.3%, a 0.9 percentage point increase over the previous week.

    The Boston area has also extended its streak above the halfway point, increasing 2.4 percentage points to 53.3%.

    GDP Growth Forecasts Shrink Further

    U.S. economic activity could be weaker than recent forecasts, according to a survey of professional forecasters.

    The 37 forecasters in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s quarterly survey predict that gross domestic product this year will come in at 5.5%, a drop from the 6.1% in its third-quarter survey. For the fourth quarter, forecasters projected a 4.6% annual growth rate, a 0.6 percentage point decrease from earlier projections.

    Last week, the Conference Board lowered its forecast for the year to 5.5%. It’s a 0.2-point drop from just a week earlier, which came at the same time the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit real estate research organization, forecast 5.7% GDP growth for the year.

    The Conference Board said it lowered its GDP projection based on the expectation that coronavirus cases will surge again because of the colder weather and the fact that the “U.S. Federal Reserve will raise policy rates earlier and more frequently than we previously anticipated.”

    Both the Conference Board and the Philadelphia survey downgraded next year’s GDP growth. The Conference Board lowered its survey to 3.5% from 3.8%, while the forecasters survey dropped from 4.4% to 3.9%

    Source: www.CoStar.com