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Jimmy John’s founder scraps IPO plan, says wheelhouse is small town America

Though founder and owner Jimmy John Liautaud has been in talks with bankers and investors regarding the decision to go public with Jimmy John’s, he has scrapped the idea entirely and stayed true to his small town America roots.

Jimmy Johns Freaky Fast Delivery

Jimmy Johns Freaky Fast Delivery

Not going forward with initial public offering

Jimmy John’s, the sandwich shop promising “freaky fast” delivery service, will not go forward with an initial public offering (IPO), despite having made extensive plans to enter the stock market.

Jimmy John’s, which operates 2,300 sandwich shops nationwide, was founded in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud, who had just graduated from high school. He opened his first restaurant in Charleston, Illinois. The chain has become highly successful, often by opening restaurants near college campuses, and staying open late. The company owns 51 restaurants, with the rest owned by franchises.


Owner in talks with bankers and investors

Jimmy John’s has never been publicly traded. Liautaud, age 51, is both CEO and majority owner, with private-equity firm Weston Presidio owning 28 percent of the company. In the past few years Liautaud had been seriously considering an IPO.

He’d held meetings with bankers, designated Morgan Stanley as its book runner, and had even scheduled several road-show meetings with potential investors. As recently as October, the Huffington Post and other news sources reported that Jimmy John’s would make an IPO. Just when the road-show tour was schedule to begin, Liautaud scrapped the plan.

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Freaky fast decision-making

“I made the whole Thanksgiving dinner and right before I was going to serve it, I threw it out,” said Liautaud of his last-minute decision to balk on an IPO. He says that the decision was not based on conditions in the IPO market, but was instead a matter of priorities. “I don’t think my wheelhouse is comfortable in Wall Street. My wheelhouse is small town America,” he explained.

Success without Wall Street

The chain has plans to expand in California, and will open 1,300 shops in the next five years. “I need to be here balancing all the dishes that are spinning,” said Liautaud.

Jimmy John’s expects to end this year with $2 billion in sales, proving that going public isn’t always necessary for a business to be successful.


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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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