Smoothie King Franchises Inc., of New Orleans, is being sold to a South Korean company for an undisclosed sum under a deal announced Monday.
Smoothie King, founded in 1973 by Steve and Cindy Kuhnau, has more than 600 units operating in 32 states, the Caymans and the Republic of Korea.
Buyer SK USA Inc. is headed by Chief Executive Officer Wan Kim, a Boston University graduate who opened his first Smoothie King in 2003. Since then Wan’s Smoothies Korea has opened more than 100 locations.
Wan said SK USA plans to open more than 1,000 new locations in the United States and throughout the world by the end of 2017.
“We are extremely positive and excited,” Kim said in a news release. “Smoothie King maintains potential for tremendous growth both here in the U.S. as well as in international markets.”
“The sale of Smoothie King represents terrific news for the future of our employees and Smoothie King franchisees,” said President and CEO Steve Kuhnau. “Cindy and I have dedicated our lives to growing Smoothie King for nearly 40 years and share great confidence in Wan for continued expansion.
“The sale of our company will allow Cindy and I to spend more time with our family while ensuring that the Smoothie King Brand, which we love, will be in very capable hands,” he said.
Steve Kuhnau will serve as a consultant and brand ambassador, representing Smoothie King domestically and internationally.
Wan was introduced to the Smoothie while he was earning his MBA at the University of California at Irvine. He opened the first international Smoothie King location in 2003 in Seoul.
Wan said a new international location is already scheduled to open in Singapore by December.
More new international locations across Southeast Asia and China will follow beginning in 2013.
As part of the purchase, Standard Charter Private Equity, a major bank, and National Pension Fund, the world’s fourth-largest public pension fund, are making a significant financial investment in the Smoothie King brand, the news release said.
Smoothie King sells fresh-blended Smoothies and healthy retail products, including sports beverages, energy bars, snacks, vitamin supplements, herbs, minerals and other sports nutrition products.