PE-backed FOCUS Brands appoints new president and CEO

FOCUS Brands, which is backed by Roark Capital Group, said Tuesday that it has hired Steve DeSutter as president and CEO. The appointment becomes effective March 17, 2014. FOCUS Brands is a franchisor and operator of ice cream shops, bakeries, restaurants and cafes, which include Carvel, Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.


ATLANTA, GA–(Marketwired – Feb 11, 2014) – FOCUS Brands Inc. announced today that Steve DeSutter will join the company as President and Chief Executive Officer on March 17, 2014. With over 4,440 locations operating throughout the U.S. and 63 foreign countries, FOCUS Brands is the franchisor of Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels®, McAlister’s Deli® and Seattle’s Best Coffee® (on certain military bases and in certain international markets).
Prior to joining FOCUS, DeSutter was the President and CEO of Stripes, LLC. With over $4 billion in sales, Stripes operates approximately 620 convenience stores, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded Susser Holdings.
Neal Aronson, Managing Partner at Roark Capital Group, the majority owner of FOCUS Brands said, “Steve is a dynamic, results-oriented leader. He has a successful track record of growing strong brands domestically and internationally by working closely with the franchise community and team members alike. We are excited to welcome Steve to the FOCUS Brands team.”
“The opportunity to lead FOCUS Brands is a great privilege,” DeSutter said in a statement. “FOCUS Brands has a great history of developing strong relationships with its franchise community and delivering value to its partners across the globe. The management team is talented and experienced, and I look forward to leading the organization as we continue to create value for all of our partners.”
Aronson also commented, “We are extremely grateful for the outstanding leadership and friendship of Russ Umphenour. During Russ’ five years as CEO, FOCUS has achieved record growth. We are pleased that Russ will continue to contribute to the success of FOCUS Brands as a member of the Board of Directors.”
Umphenour said, “FOCUS Brands has some of the finest brands, Franchise Partners, Vendor Partners and Associates that I have ever had the privilege of working with. In addition to all the great things we have accomplished together, I am very excited about the skills and experience that Steve DeSutter brings to the table and I’m looking forward to his leadership as FOCUS continues to grow into the future.”
DeSutter brings a deep background in food, multi-brand management, franchising, domestic and international growth, and leadership. Prior to joining Stripes in June 2008, DeSutter served as Executive Vice President of TurnWorks, Inc. Prior to this, as an officer of Burger King Corporation, Steve’s final position was President of Europe and Middle East. Steve began his career at British Petroleum, working in operations, marketing and finance roles during his 18 years with the company.
About FOCUS Brands
Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands Inc. is the franchisor and operator of over 4,440 ice cream shoppes, bakeries, restaurants and cafes in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 63 foreign countries under the brand names Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne’s® Pretzels and McAlister’s Deli®, as well as the franchisor of Seattle’s Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit to learn more.
About Roark Capital Group
Roark Capital Group is an Atlanta-based private equity firm that specializes in franchise, brand management, environmental services and marketing services companies with attractive growth prospects. Roark’s franchise and multi-unit portfolio includes 29 brands that collectively have more than 15,000 locations and $15 billion in system wide revenues across 50 states and 68 countries. Roark’s total locations include nearly 13,000 domestic locations and more than 2,300 international locations. They also include nearly 13,000 franchise locations (operated by 4,200 franchisees) and 2,300 company owned locations. Roark affiliates have made 17 restaurant investments including Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Carl’s Jr., Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Corner Bakery, Hardee’s, Il Fornaio, McAlister’s Deli, Miller’s Ale House, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s, and Wingstop. Roark’s portfolio also includes brands such as Atkins Nutritionals, Massage Envy, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Primrose Schools, Money Mailer, FASTSIGNS, and Pet Valu. The firm has $3 billion of equity capital under management. For more information, visit
Karlie Lahm