It’s been 15 months since CWB introduced its Franchise Finance division after purchasing GE Capital Canada. And to say that the CWB Franchise Finance team have outperformed in their debut as a division of CWB is an understatement. “We’re at the centre point of many high quality transactions,” says Ed Khediguian, Vice President of CWB Franchise Finance. “There’s momentum being built up, so we have a good trajectory.” With high team spirits and even higher status deals, everyone at CWB is excited to see just how far CWB Franchise Finance will go with its success.
This has also enabled growth that wouldn’t have manifested otherwise through leveraging the infrastructure and support of CWB Financial Group, which has led to a number of marquee deals for CWB Franchise Finance. “We’ve done some very dynamic deals in both the restaurant and hotel sectors, which I’m proud of,” remarks Ed. “In the hotel sector, we did an $80 million hotel facility for Holloway Lodging Corporation, against 10 hotels. And we were able to syndicate $30 million of that exposure.”
On the restaurant side, Franchise Finance has completed a number of creative transactions with some regional brands, including a large refinancing development with Brown’s Social House. “We also did a deal with Donnelley group based out of Vancouver for their growth in Ontario, as well as with Craft beer, which is a Calgary based business expanding into the Ontario market as well,” says Ed. Those are just a sample of some of the truly creative regional concepts that are in high growth and high performance mode, whereby Franchise Finance has been able to provide facilities for helping that growth.
The scale of this success is all the more impressive given that the first challenge for the CWB Franchise Finance team was to integrate into CWB’s system immediately following the implementation of a new core banking system. “The biggest hurdle our team had to clear was adapting to CWB’s technology for its processes. It was a time of enormous change for both sides,” notes Ed.
CWB’s original interest in acquiring the business was driven by its specialized nature, the team’s long tenure and a strong track record of success. Ed also worked hard to maintain a focus on expertise in the hotel and restaurant industries within a Canadian context. He recalls, “I carved out the Canadian platform during the process and created, along with the investment bankers on the file, a summary of the business opportunity to pitch to potential Canadian investors. I met with 13 potential investors, including Chris Fowler, CEO of CWB, and his leadership team.”
Ed notes that CWB liked the specialized nature of the business, the returns, the lack of delinquencies and losses, as well as the fact that the Franchise Finance team included long-term staff with an average tenure of close to 10 years. It was this veteran team that was one of the key factors that helped Franchise Finance feel like a turnkey operation and achieve success in its very first year of operation with CWB. “Part of the plan initially was that we’d probably do about $200 million of new loan originations in 2017,” says Ed. “However, we ended up closer to $300 million as of the end of October.”
Ed is proud of the fact that every member of the team moved together, with no one left behind, following the transition to CWB, and that the corporate team culture was rejuvenated as a result. “Through the sales process, we were able to retain all talent, with employees feeling super engaged,” says Ed. However, he is quick to note that his team has always been strong. In fact, at their peak, the CWB Franchise Finance team was responsible for approximately 20 per cent of the net income generated from the entire Canadian base of operations for the prior owner.
But the real payoff for Ed is seeing what this means for his staff in terms of greater opportunities for helping more clients grow their businesses. “Our team is excited and optimistic, and that’s the biggest plus for me, says Ed.”
Get in touch with a CWB Franchise Finance specialist today to find out how they can help you achieve your own business aspirations.