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One of McDonald's Biggest Operators Pulls Out of the Business

The chain is acquiring Caspers Company's 60 locations.

After announcing major changes to its franchisee policies, America's No.1 fast-food chain is parting ways with one of its most prominent operators.

According to Restaurant Business, McDonald's is buying out Florida-based Caspers Company and taking over all 60 of its restaurants in the Tampa and Jacksonville area. The chain has not revealed what it plans to do with the stores post-acquisition and whether any closures are expected.

Operators since 1958, the Casper family opened its first McDonald's location when the chain's nationwide footprint was below 100 restaurants, making them one of the oldest operators in the McDonald's system. And according to a message from Jason Clark, vice president of the Atlanta Field Office, Caspers' locations are also some of the most successful ones in the region based on sales, customer count, and cash flows.

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Caspers Company is also credited with starting the nation's first McDonald's franchisee organization, the National Owners Association, in 2018. Caspers' CEO Blake Casper has been serving as its chairman since inception.

McDonald's recently refreshed its franchise system with policy changes that seem designed to keep operators on their toes, which hasn't helped its strained relationship with long-term operators.

The Chicago-based burger giant, which has about 13,000 franchise operators in the United States, outlined in an internal memo a new way it plans to vet operators who want to renew their 20-year franchise agreements. No matter how long they've been in business, franchisees will have to undergo a whole new application process to remain in the system, even those in generally good standing.

Additionally, children or spouses of existing operators who apply to become operators themselves will be evaluated as new candidates without preferential treatment.

"Moving forward, we will adopt 'new term' across the U.S. market to describe the process of awarding another 20-year franchise agreement based on performance history," McDonald's USA president Joe Erlinger wrote in the memo. "The change is in keeping with the principle that receiving a new franchise term is earned, not given."

In a bid to diversify its network of operators, the chain has been on a buy-out spree. In fact, a record 400 franchisees have left the system last year—representing some 13% of the company's total franchisee-owned locations. Some speculate that McDonald's may also be looking for ways to rid its ranks of the most vocal critics.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura