Speculation about Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc.’s future in Winston-Salem resumed Tuesday with two new developments.
The first is that Mike Tattersfield, its chief executive for the past 15 months, and his wife spent $1.37 million on Aug. 22 to buy a home off Lake Norman in Cornelius, according to real estate records.
Also, several media reports Tuesday have JAB Holdings Inc., the German-based parent company of Krispy Kreme, preparing to offer up to $8.2 billion for Dunkin’ Brands Group inc., by far the top doughnut chain in the country.
By comparison, Krispy Kreme has been privately held since July 2016 after being bought for $1.35 billion by JAB subsidiary JAB Beech.
There have been increasing levels of local speculation recently that the company is considering moving its headquarters out of Winston-Salem to Charlotte. It has been based in Winston-Salem since being founded by Vernon Rudolph in Old Salem on July 1937.
Krispy Kreme has 150 headquarters employees and 554 overall in Forsyth County, according to the latest workforce total the company has provided to the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
The Tattersfield home is in the 17th phase of the build-out of The Peninsula high-end development. The couple bought the home from Robert and Sonya Stevanovski.
The surfacing of news about the Tatterfields’ home purchase has increased local speculation about a pending corporate and/or operational move. Spokeswoman Sarah Roof Garling could not be reached for immediate comment Tuesday on the Tattersfield residential purchase or where his family resides now.
When JAB Beech bought Krispy Kreme, it pledged to retain local management, the headquarters and workforce.
On Friday, Garling said the company is “maintaining Krispy Kreme’s global headquarters in Winston-Salem, the birthplace of the company, as we deeply value our heritage and attachment to this area.”
The company also confirmed it is planning to “establish a presence” in the Charlotte market as part of its long-term growth strategy.
Tattersfield has served as Krispy Kreme’s chief executive since Jan. 1 after becoming its chairman as part of the JAB Beech purchase. Tattersfield has kept his chief executive duties with Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bagels, two other JAB brands.
Mayor Allen Joines said Friday that he spoke with Tattersfield on Thursday after hearing rumors about the headquarters.
“He assured me that the headquarters will remain in Winston-Salem,” Joines said. “I asked him directly if I could make that statement to the press and he said ‘absolutely.’ ”
JAB has invested heavily in the coffee and doughnut sectors in recent years, spending a combined $23 billion on buying Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee and Caribou Coffee.
Dunkin’s share price has risen as much as 10.6 percent since Friday’s close of $54.82.
Some media reports question whether an $8.2 billion price tag for Dunkin’ would be financially feasible for JAB Holdings, as well as the potential for regulatory scrutiny for controlling two-thirds of the American market share between 62.1 percent from Dunkin’ and 4.5 percent from Krispy Kreme, according to IRIS World.
Dunkin’ is based in Canton, Mass.
Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte, said “it’s a toss-up” on whether JAB could gain regulatory approval to buy Dunkin’ with the business-friendly Trump administration.
” Justice Department approval will hinge on how you define companies, such as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’,” Plath said. “If you define their business broadly as part of the fast-food industry, then combining these two companies doesn’t really produce an anti-competitive concentration.
“Alternatively, if you define their business more narrowly as the retail doughnut trade, then it’s quite easy to make an argument that the combination creates a virtually monopoly in the industry,” Plath said.
As such, Plath said JAB may be contemplating the offer in part to see how federal regulators react.
Dunkin’ has confirmed it is considering taking Donuts out of its brand. It is also planning to spend $100 million over two years on updating its online presence and enhancing its store designs.
Nigel Travis, Dunkin’s chief executive, told The Associated Press on Thursday that it wants to remain the “No. 1 retailer of doughnuts.”
However, it may reduce its store count from about 1,000 and remove some menu items, including some doughnut varieties, to make the stores easier to run for franchisees, Travis said.
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