Dollars to donuts: Dunkin’ Brands might have a new owner

It might be time for someone new to make the donuts. At least, in a corporate sense anyway. A change of ownership of the iconic donut shop, Dunkin’, could be on the horizon.

Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, is negotiating with private equity-backed company, Inspire Brands whose portfolio includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Jimmy John’s.

According to a New York Times article, the deal would take Dunkin’ Brands private at a price of $106.50 a share. Although initial shutdowns from the pandemic hurt business, the legacy brand has enjoyed shareholder confidence with its share price more than doubling since March. Its shares are up about 18 percent from a year ago.

In July, the company announced the closing of more than 800 locations in the U.S., including 450 stores within the convenience store and gas station chain Speedway.  According to a Business Insider article, with more people working from home the pandemic cut into the coffee shop’s visits. Dunkin’ was able to offset losses with customers placing more expensive orders, in the form of bulk orders, added snacks, and pricier drinks. Offering conveniences like curbside pickup, on-the-go ordering through mobil apps, drive-throughs, reward programs, and third-party delivery services have also helped the company stay ahead of the game.

As part of a rebranding effort to cater to more high-end beverage drinkers, the company changed its name last year. Although they still serve their classic donuts and other favorites like Munchkins® donuts holes, the word “donut” is no longer part of their name. With half of its revenue coming from drinks, the company is focusing on specialty beverages like Chai and Matcha Lattes and offering dairy alternatives like almond and oat milk at many locations. A new tap system introduced a host of cold beverages, including nitro cold brew, dark-roast coffee, decaf, green tea, and iced tea.

In 1950, the first Dunkin’ shop was opened in Quincy, MA. Since then, it has grown to more than 8,500 restaurants in 41 states across the U.S.A. with another 3,200 locations across 36 countries.

—Jill Abrahamsen