- Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises' buyout of Seattle Coffee Co. was finalized in February. Not much will change for the popular coffee chain, however; its management and employee team will stay intact, as will its Seattle headquarters. While AFC is the parent company of such consumer favorites as Churchs Chicken and Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, acquiring the Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia brands marks AFC's first venture into the coffee trade.
- Detroit-based Tool Traders Inc. will join Play It Again Sports and other retail recycling concepts in the Grow Biz International family now that Tool Traders has sold its franchising rights and some of its assets to Grow Biz. Grow Biz plans to open approximately 500 Tool Traders stores, which buy and sell new and used tools, within the next five years, including corporate-owned locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the company's home base.
- Although McDonald's won't be swapping hamburgers for tacos any time soon, it has agreed to purchase a minority share in World Foods, parent company of Denver-based restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill. If the venture proves successful, the fast-food giant will look into creating new Mexican food franchising opportunities.
- Yogen Fr�z World-Wide Inc., a dominating force in the frozen dessert industry, acquired Ice Cream Churn Enterprises Inc. in January. Yogen Fr�z, the Markham, Ontario-based franchisor of Bresler's Ice Cream and I Can't Believe It's Yogurt, hopes to tighten the relationship between the 25-year-old Byron, Georgia-based Ice Cream Churn and Wal-Mart, where it has 22 outlets to date.
- Houston-based Deck The Walls Inc. recently purchased The Great Frame Up, a national chain based in Chicago, to become the world's largest franchisor of art and custom framing stores. The Great Frame Up franchises will retain their identities.