Funds from BTG Pactual Will Boost Franchise Expansion, with Focus on U.S.
The acai brand Oakberry has received a $67 million investment from BTG Pactual to support its global expansion, with an emphasis on U.S. growth. Oakberry, a quick-service restaurant chain specializing in acai bowls and smoothies, has about 700 units in operation in 40 countries. By the end of this year, the brand predicts it will exceed $200 million in revenue and will have almost 1,000 stores up and running worldwide.
Acai, sustainably harvested from Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and marketed as a superfood rich in vitamins and high in fiber, contains the antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are believed to inhibit neuroinflammation while improving blood flow to the brain, according to a Medical News Today article. That report cited a study finding that regular consumption of anthocyanins can decrease heart attack risks in young and middle-aged women by 32%.
Oakberry’s acai-centric menu appeals to all people seeking healthful lifestyles and diets. About 70% of Oakberry’s total revenue is derived from international operations; that total is expected to reach 80% within two years, according to information released by the brand and cited by Reuters. It operates both franchisee- and company-owned stores.
Oakberry’s Aggressive Expansion
Georgios Frangulis, CEO and co-founder of Oakberry, said BTG Pactual will serve as “a strategic partner with a keen focus on reinforcing our expansion. The strategy to invest in corporate stores in high-demand markets like the United States, represents an excellent opportunity for capital allocation while at the same time establishing our brand in these regions.”
Bruno Cardinali, global head of marketing for Oakberry, and Leandro Gasparin, who heads North American business for the brand – franchise veterans from Burger King and Popeyes – recently have led the acai brand’s ambitious expansion. Oakberry launched more than 150 stores in 2023. It has 35 U.S. stores, Restaurant Business reported, and it has set a goal of expanding to 200-plus U.S. stores by 2026. Oakberry leaders praise their brand’s ability to scale quickly because of operational efficiency, with stores needing only one to three workers and a simple menu, Restaurant Business said.
The new BTG investment, raised through Series C funding, surprised Gasparin, Franchise Times reported. BTG contributed to Oakberry’s Series B investment in 2021, the article stated, and Gasparin said Oakberry wasn’t actively seeking capital. But BTG wanted to boost its growth and offered the investment, according to Franchise Times.
Oakberry’s Key Expansion Targets
“There was a lot of alignment in the plans and what we expect for the future and we thought it was the right time,” the publication quoted Gasparin as saying. He added that Oakberry is working on multi-unit deals with “sophisticated and great operators” to introduce the brand in new U.S. cities and will keep expanding in current markets, especially in Southern California, Florida and Manhattan.
Oakberry also is looking into co-investments in Australia and Portugal. Outside the U.S., Oakberry already operates in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and France, according to Reuters. In Europe, where it recently hit 100 total units, Oakberry has set a goal of tripling its presence by 2026.
About Oakberry and BTG
Oakberry was founded in 2016 in Brazil by Frangulis and Renato Haidar, who wanted to offer a nutritious, delicious and fun menu. Oakberry features customizable organic, vegan açaí bowls and smoothies with no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors. Customers may choose unlimited toppings such as granola, fruit, nut butters and chia pudding. Oakberry also sells juice and snack bars.
“Oakberry is way more than just acai,” Cardinali said in the Franchise Times article. “It’s a lifestyle brand that really resonates with people across many countries.”
The Oakberry brand aligns with BTG Pactual’s investment strategy. Through its investments, BTG aims to support the sustainable agriculture of its suppliers as well as the local economies where ingredients are sourced.
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