SK USA Agrees to Buy Smoothie King

Smoothie King Franchises, based in New Orleans, is being sold to SK USA, a South Korean company. Smoothie King currently has more than 600 units operating in 32 states, the Caymans and the Republic of Korea. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Standard Charter Private Equity and National Pension Fund are “making a significant financial investment” in the brand, according to a release.


SK USA, Inc. has agreed to purchase Smoothie King Franchises, Inc., both companies announced Monday. Smoothie King Co-founders Steve and Cindy Kuhnau to sell controlling interest of the Louisiana based company to SK USA, Inc., headed by CEO Wan Kim.

“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.”

Wan is a Boston University Graduate. He was introduced to the Smoothie while he was earning his MBA at the University of California at Irvine. Wan became a huge fan of the concept and opened the first international Smoothie King location in 2003. As the CEO of Smoothies Korea he and his company have been an integral part of the Smoothie King organization for nearly 10 years.

Kuhnau adds, “Wan has been an enthusiastic believer and supporter of the Smoothie King Brand since he and his team opened the first Smoothie King in Seoul. They have been tremendously successful opening and operating over 100 Smoothie King locations in South Korea since 2003. 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.”

“We are extremely positive and excited,” said Smoothies Korea CEO Wan Kim. “Smoothie King maintains potential for tremendous growth both here in the U.S. as well as in International markets. Our plans are to continue to expand and build on the great foundation that Steve, Cindy, members of the Smoothie King home office and the best franchisees in the QSR industry have worked to create.”

Wan continued, “Smoothie King is a company with well over 20 years of aggressive growth ahead of it, both in the U.S. and globally. We are making a long-term commitment to realize this potential. We plan to open more than 1,000 new locations both in the United States and internationally by the end of 2017.” A new international location is already scheduled to open in Singapore by December of 2012. More new international locations across Southeast Asia and China will follow beginning in 2013.

As part of this purchase Standard Charter Private Equity (one of the major top 10 banks in the world) and National Pension Fund (world’s fourth largest public pension fund) are making a significant financial investment in the Smoothie King brand.

Based on this strong capital injection, Smoothie King has set its sights on moving very quickly to ensure Smoothie King is recognized worldwide as the fastest growing health conscious QSR Brand.

Steve Kuhnau will remain with the company and serve as a consultant and brand ambassador representing Smoothie King domestically and internationally as Smoothie King’s original founder and passionate advocate for health and wellness.

Smoothie King is a privately held New Orleans area based Franchise Company and the premier Smoothie Bar and Nutritional Lifestyle Center in the industry. Smoothie King offers guests the original nutritional fresh-blended smoothie and healthy retail products, including sports beverages, energy bars, healthy snacks, vitamin supplements, herbs, minerals and other sports nutrition products. Smoothie King opened its first location in 1973 and started as the first franchised smoothie bar / health food store in the United States in 1989. Smoothie King currently has more than 600 units operating in 32 states, the Caymans and the Republic of Korea. In 2011 Smoothie King was ranked # 1 by entrepreneur magazine in the juice bar category for the 18th year, #70 overall on the 2011 Franchise 500 list and honored as part of the QSR Global 30.