Sweetgreen IPO Shows Company on Track to Double in Size Within 5 Years

Sweetgreen IPO Shows Company on Track to Double in Size Within 5 Years
Sweetgreen aims to provide “transparency from seed to bowl.”

Sweetgreen Inc.’s initial public offering, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, may value the company at about $2.7 billion should the price per share target of $23 to $25 hold.
The IPO also paints a picture of a company in a full growth mode.

Although the Jefferson Park-based salad and grain bowl restaurant chain has not turned a profit since it opened in 2007, its footprint has expanded to 140 doors in 13 states and Washington, D.C., and is on track to double in size over the next three to five years.

“We have built a purpose-driven brand with significantly greater reach than our current physical footprint,” the company wrote in its S-1 registration statement. “Our brand recognition, in combination with our passionate customer following, has enabled us to lead conversations on the importance of what we eat. Our bold vision is to be as ubiquitous as traditional fast food, but with the transparency and quality that consumers increasingly expect.”

The S-1 statement also shows Sweetgreen’s 2021 revenue through Sept. 26 totaling $243 million, compared to $161 million during the same period in 2020. The company ended last year with $144 million in losses on $220.6 million in revenue, down from $274 million in revenue and $67 million in losses it posted in 2019.

On the restaurant level, management said in a statement Sweetgreen has “demonstrated strong unit economics in conjunction with sustained rapid growth,” which enables it to generate an average unit volume in the range of $2.8 million to $3 million and profit margins of 18% to 20%, and to invest approximately $1.2 million to open each new eatery.

Sweetgreen debuted in 2007 when college friends Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman opened a small eatery near Georgetown University’s campus. By the time they moved the company’s headquarters to the L.A. area in 2016, they had 39 locations. The restaurant chain, which now has 5,396 employees, is on schedule to move its headquarters next year to Exposition 3, a 94,000-square-foot creative office property in West Adams.

Sweetgreen works with some 200 U.S.-based farmers and organizes its supply chain “into regional distribution networks that align retail proximity with cultivation to allow for more transparency from seed to bowl,” according to the company. It also plans crops with growers far in advance of its supply needs “to ensure we can serve the best products for each market,” according to the company.

Sweetgreen has raised about $670 million in venture capital funding to date, including a $156 million round in January led by Chevy Chase, Md.-based Durable Capital Partners and a $150 million round in September 2019 led by New York City-based D1 Capital Partners and Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund Lone Pine Capital.

Jammet, Ru and Neman hold approximately 59.6% of the voting power of company’s outstanding capital stock.

The upcoming public debut on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker SG will help the company raise approximately $275 million, which it plans to use to for working capital, operating expenses and capital expenditures; to acquire complementary businesses or services; and develop the technology acquired in its recent acquisition of Spyce Food Co.

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