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Bob Bielinski, Managing Director And Head Of The Restaurant Industry Practice For CIT Group Inc. (Photo: Business Wire)

Slow economic growth and continued high unemployment have limited the recovery in discretionary consumer spending, but steady improvement for the restaurant sector should continue according to Bob Bielinski , Managing Director and Head of the Restaurant Industry Practice at CIT Group Inc, (NYSE: CIT) cit.com, a leading provider of financing to small businesses and middle market companies. This topic is one of many discussed in the U.S. Restaurant Industry Outlook ( cit.com/vodcastbielinski), the latest in a series of in-depth executive video Q&As featured in the award winning CIT Executive Insights video series (cit.com/executiveinsights).

Bob Bielinski, Managing Director and head of the Restaurant Industry practice for CIT Group Inc. (Ph ...

Bob Bielinski, Managing Director and head of the Restaurant Industry practice for CIT Group Inc. (Photo: Business Wire)

Financing Available for Large Operators

Like consumers, lenders stepped away from the market during the downturn; however, they have returned, along with some new entrants. “Large and middle market restaurant companies, as well as franchisees of larger chains, have accessed the debt markets to finance growth, whether it’s acquisitions, new units or remodels,” says Bielinski. “However, if you’re a smaller company or a franchisee of a smaller chain, you’re probably still finding it difficult to get financing.”

IPO Markets Strong, M&A Steady

Earlier this year the market saw a steady flow of mergers and acquisitions transactions, including deals for Yard House, P.F. Chang’s, O’Charley’s and Benihana. Bielinski comments, “There have also been a significant number of franchisee transactions driven by the sales recovery and by the potential increase in taxes in 2013. It’s a great time to sell a business because valuation multiples are very high and the debt markets are strong, so buyers can get financing. However, the restaurant companies that were sold in 2010 and 2011 have new owners that aren’t ready to sell.”

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