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November 20, 2012

Smoothie King to Retain and Expand Headquarters in Greater New Orleans

Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), the economic development agency for the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region, joined Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Economic Development, Jefferson Parish President John Young, Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission Deputy Director Jerry Bologna, and Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim to announce the retention and expansion of the company’s international headquarters in Greater New Orleans. Smoothie King will create 60 direct jobs over the next five years in a new headquarters location in Jefferson Parish as part of its global expansion strategy.

The company will also retain 45 existing headquarters personnel who will move from Smoothie King’s current corporate office in Covington. The 60 new direct jobs will pay an average salary of $75,000, plus benefits. LED also estimates the retention and expansion project will result in an additional 78 new indirect jobs.

“Smoothie King’s decision to keep and grow its headquarters in the Greater New Orleans region, rather than move out of state, is both validation of our new business climate, and a great opportunity for our community,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “We are thrilled that Smoothie King, a company born in Greater New Orleans, is on a path to become a globally recognized brand; the result will be jobs for our citizens and recognition that Greater New Orleans is where innovative companies start, grow, and succeed.”

Governor Jindal said, “This is a great day for the New Orleans area and for our entire state. When I took office, we made a commitment to improve our business climate so our existing companies could continue to reinvest in our state and grow their businesses. Smoothie King’s decision to expand in Louisiana shows that our efforts are working. Smoothie King looked closely at moving to Texas, but they chose to stay here in Louisiana because we have a strong business climate and the best workers in the world.”

In July, Global CEO Wan Kim completed a successful acquisition of Smoothie King Franchises Inc. from co-founders Steve and Cindy Kuhnau through his SK USA Inc. firm, supported by investment partners Standard Chartered Private Equity and National Pension Fund. While a graduate student in the U.S., Wan discovered the Smoothie King franchise and later developed a successful network of more than 100 Smoothie King franchises in his native South Korea. He plans to increase the current number of franchise locations substantially, adding more than 1,000 new units in the next five years to the current total of more than 600.

“Smoothie King is a company with well over 20 years of aggressive growth ahead of it, both in the U.S. and globally,” said Wan Kim, the company’s CEO. “We are making a long-term commitment to realize this potential. We plan to open more than 1,000 new locations both in the United States and internationally by the end of 2017. A new international location is already scheduled to open in Singapore by December 2012. More new international locations across Southeast Asia and China will follow beginning in 2013.”

After the July sale of the company, the state joined GNO, Inc. in talks about retaining the corporate headquarters in Louisiana. Smoothie King considered moving out of state but elected to remain in the New Orleans area. Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) was engaged when Smoothie King expressed the condition of being near Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. In order to help convince Smoothie King to stay and grow in Greater New Orleans, GNO, Inc. outlined the business case for remaining in Greater New Orleans, highlighted region’s workforce and leadership advantages, and hosted quality of life tours. Further, LED will provide Smoothie King with a $2.4 million, performance-based grant payable over five years. The incentive offsets lease payments and office improvements at Smoothie King’s future headquarters office and offsets flight differential costs for New Orleans versus other markets.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Smoothie King’s headquarters back to Jefferson Parish,” said Jefferson Parish President John Young. “After being originally founded in Jefferson, we are thrilled Smoothie King’s international headquarters is finally home to begin its next phase of expansion. It is a testament to our business-friendly environment, our pool of talented professionals and to the opportunities we offer and to our progressive future on which we continue to build. We are looking forward to a healthy, long-term partnership with Smoothie King.”

Smoothie King will begin its initial hiring immediately and create 60 new headquarters jobs during the next five years. The company expects to complete its move to the new headquarters space by the end of the second quarter in 2013.

“The fact that Smoothie King was founded in Jefferson Parish, and is returning to launch an aggressive growth strategy, is indicative of both our entrepreneurial environment and our ability to provide the resources required for an international brand to be successful,” said Deputy Director Jerry Bologna of the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission, or JEDCO.