WILBRAHAM, MA: Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, the parent company of Friendly's restaurants, has hired MWW Group for communications assistance for its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
The company hired MWW in early September to help it “put together a comprehensive communications plan to reach out to all their audiences” about the restructuring, said Rich Tauberman, EVP at MWW. The company said today that it will close 63 restaurants across the country, leaving 424 open for business.
“We're tying to encourage employees at affected stores to apply for jobs at other locations,” said Tauberman. “We're hopeful that we can accommodate as many as possible.”
About 20 people work at each Friendly's restaurant, he said, and the company has more than 9,000 employees nationwide. Friendly's is a private company and has no investor relations group.
Tauberman said the corporation decided to close 63 restaurants and restructure after conducting a “thorough analysis.” He added that the economic environment is challenging and the price of commodities, particularly cream, rose significantly in the last few years.
“For some people, bankruptcy is a scary word,” he said. “Our core is to emphasize that this is a financial restructuring, that it's going to be a quick process, that it's business as usual, that this is a company with great employees, great franchisees, a great work force, a much beloved brand, and this is a process to allow the company to be a stronger, better, and more competitive restaurant chain.”
MWW, with a team of six employees working on the account, will use both traditional and social media to reach out to Friendly's employees, consumers, suppliers, and vendors. Tauberman said the brand's Facebook and Twitter pages are very active, seeing many messages of support since the company said it will close restaurants.
However, Friendly's is not using its consumer site to provide information about the Chapter 11 process.
“The Friendly's website is a consumer-facing website, so what we're trying to do is provide consumers with information on our restaurants and our products,” said Tauberman. “It's not a corporate site or a financial site.”
Maura Tobias, director of consumer engagement at Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, referred questions to Tauberman.