International Franchising Inc. acquires Sweet Jesus

The acquisition adds a millennial-friendly chain to the company's portfolio, which includes Yogen Fruz and Pinkberry.
Sweet Jesus

International Franchising Inc. (IFI) has acquired Sweet Jesus, the fast-growing soft-serve ice-cream shop started by a Toronto agency, and added it to its portfolio of frozen-dessert brands.

Sweet Jesus has become one of the fastest-growing ice-cream chains in the country and now counts 20 locations across Canada, the U.S. and the Middle East. It was founded in 2015 by Andrew Richmond, former design director at OneMethod, and Amin Todai, the agency’s current president and CCO. It was previously owned by their company Monarch & Misfits, the restaurant group that also operates Mexican street food chain La Carnita.

Through the acquisition, IFI adds to a portfolio that includes the Yogen Früz, Pinkberry, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Yeh! Yogurt and Yogurty’s frozen-dessert chains, with operations totalling more than 1,400 locations across 47 countries.

As part of the deal, former Sweet Jesus chief development officer Jeff Young steps into the role of president of IFI.

Following its expansion into the U.S. earlier this year, Sweet Jesus faced backlash over what some customers called its “blasphemous” name (in the Middle East, it operates under the “Sweet Salvation” banner). But in a previous interview with strategy, Richmond said the company had no plans to change its name and that the incident had “brought a lot of attention to the brand in ways that we couldn’t afford on an ad spend level or a PR level.”

To date, the company has raised its profile through a no-spend marketing strategy that has relied instead on developing a substantial social-media presence.

In a statement, Aaron Serruya, president of IFI, described Sweet Jesus as a “powerful brand with a rich social-media following that resonates especially with millennials.” Through the acquisition, the restaurant operator adds a brand with a “distinctive position within a compelling segment and strong U.S. and international prospects for growth.”