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Slim Chickens Nears $100M In Revenue

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Tom Gordon, CEO and co-founder of homegrown fast-casual chain Slim Chickens, says the Fayetteville company’s revenue, on an annualized basis, will surpass $100 million by the end of the second quarter of 2017.

That’s double Slim Chickens’ revenue for 2015, which stood at $50 million, COO Sam Rothschild told Arkansas Business last year.

The happy revenue news came in an update from Gordon on the company’s first international outlet, in Kuwait City, which he expects to open in May. Slim Chickens has entered a franchising agreement with Alghanim Industries, a Kuwaiti company, to open locations in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Alghanim, a private company operating in 40 countries, represents a number of high-profile brands, including Chevrolet, Wendy’s and American Express.

Gordon said the company had had two other opportunities to open in the Middle East but had decided to focus on its business in the U.S. — that is, until Alghanim came calling. Alghanim wants to open five to 10 Slim Chickens a year, Gordon said. “Beyond that, we don’t have any other international deals signed yet, but the phones have been ringing,” he said.

“The cultural differences aren’t too problematic,” Gordon said of working internationally compared with working in the U.S. “You have to get over the time difference and then the development of the real estate and understanding how they see the consumer proposition. But for the most part, it’s been a very good, seamless process.”

Slim Chickens last week opened its 51st restaurant in the United States, in Irving, Texas, and Gordon said the company planned to launch 31 locations in 2017 and 55 in 2018. Slim Chickens, now in 12 states, has 22 company stores with the rest franchise outlets.

Asked what he knows now that he wishes he’d known in 2003, when Slim Chickens started, Gordon said, laughing, “Almost everything.

“We always wanted to have a large organization. That was never in question. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of people, the human capital side. You’ve really got to invest in people. And we’ve learned that lesson, not to our detriment.

“We’ve done a good job of building a team,” he said. “I wish I could have built the team a little sooner, but operating from a base of all organic capital and sales, we just had to take our time to build the team. But the team’s been wonderful, and we’re really growing now like I want us to be growing.”

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