published Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Positive changes for Krystal

With a new owner, senior management team, ad agency and headquarters, the Krystal Co. said Friday it is poised for renewed growth.

Krystal said sales and profits have improved while the company has paid down "a significant portion" of its debt in the past year since the Atlanta equity firm Argonne Capital Group bought the fast-food company in March 2012. The company said Friday it plans to grow from 350 to 500 units in the next four years, primarily through franchised Krystal restaurants.

"Even though our brand is celebrating our 80th anniversary, we're applying a fresh perspective to all areas of our business," Krystal CEO Doug Pendergast said in a statement. "However, it doesn't mean we're changing everything. We're recommitting ourselves to the founding principles of the brand as captured in our Krystal Kreed."

In the past year, Krystal has revamped its senior management and advertising team, including the addition of a digital agency to promote the iconic brand. Fitzgerald + CO of Atlanta taking the lead as advertising and brand agency while Bright Red of Tallahassee, Fla., is handling social media and digital marketing. The company relocated its headquarters this year from Chattanooga, where it began in 1933, to an Atlanta suburban office complex.

The company also celebrated the opening of a new Ringgold, Ga., restaurant at 5703 Alabama Highway on Friday. The grand opening helped raise funds to help the local school hit by the April 2011 tornadoes.

Michael Klump, founder and CEO of Argonne Capital, said Krystal's "positive steps taken by this team have been outstanding." Krystal recently restarted franchise development efforts for the first time since 2006.

"The company is enjoying the largest single-year increase in customer value scores in the history of the brand," Klump said.

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