Winmark 10-K 2009
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Commission File Number: 000-22012
(exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
605 Highway 169 North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55441
(Address of Principal Executive Offices) (Zip Code)
Registrants Telephone Number, Including Area Code: (763) 520-8500
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days:
Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer, and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act (Check one):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold, of the average bid and asked price of such common equity, as of the last business day of the registrants most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $41,937,383.
Shares of no par value Common Stock outstanding as of March 12, 2009: 5,381,669 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement for the Registrants Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on April 29, 2009 have been incorporated by reference into Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Part III of this report.
WINMARK CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
We are a franchisor of four value-oriented retail store concepts that buy, sell, trade and consign merchandise. Each of our retail store brands emphasizes consumer value by offering high-quality used merchandise at substantial savings from the price of new merchandise and by purchasing customers used goods that have been outgrown or are no longer used. The retail brands also offer new merchandise to customers. We also franchise a concept that provides leasing and financing services to small businesses.
We also operate a middle-market equipment leasing business through our wholly owned subsidiary, Winmark Capital Corporation. Our middle-market leasing business serves large and medium-sized businesses and focuses on technology-based assets which generally cost more than $250,000. The businesses we target generally have annual revenue of $25 million or more. We generate middle-market equipment leases primarily through business alliances, equipment vendors and directly from customers.
We also operate a small-ticket financing business through our wholly owned subsidiary, Wirth Business Credit, Inc. (formerly known as Winmark Business Solutions, Inc.). Our small-ticket financing business serves small businesses and focuses on assets which generally have a cost of $5,000 to $250,000. We generate financing business directly from customers, and also through our Wirth Business Credit® franchisees.
Our significant assets are located within the United States, and we generate all revenues from United States operations other than franchising revenues from Canadian operations of approximately $2.0 million, $2.0 million and $1.8 million for 2008, 2007 and 2006, respectively. For additional financial information, please see Item 6 Selected Financial Data and Item 8 Financial Statements and Supplementary Data. We were incorporated in Minnesota in 1988.
Our four retail brands with their fiscal year 2008 system-wide sales, defined as estimated revenues generated by all franchise owned locations, are summarized as follows:
Play It Again Sports® - $235 million.
We began franchising the Play It Again Sports® brand in 1988. Play It Again Sports® franchises sell, buy, trade and consign used and new sporting goods, equipment and accessories for a variety of athletic activities including hockey, wheeled sports (in-line skating, skateboards, etc.), fitness, ski/snowboard, golf and baseball/softball. The franchises offer a flexible mix of merchandise that is adjusted to adapt to seasonal and regional differences. Play It Again Sports® is known for providing the highest value to the customer by offering a mix of used and new sporting goods. For the years ended 2008, 2007 and 2006, Play It Again Sports® contributed royalties and franchise fees of $9.8 million, $10.4 million and $10.4 million, respectively. As a percentage of consolidated revenues for 2008, 2007 and 2006, these amounts equaled 27.6%, 33.3% and 38.1%, respectively.
Once Upon A Child® - $136 million.
We began franchising the Once Upon A Child® brand in 1993. Once Upon A Child® franchises sell and buy used and new childrens clothing, toys, furniture, equipment and accessories. This brand primarily targets cost-conscious parents of children ages infant to 10 years with emphasis on children ages seven years old and under. These customers have the opportunity to sell their used childrens items to a Once Upon A Child® franchise when outgrown and to purchase quality used childrens clothing, toys, furniture and equipment at prices lower than new merchandise. New merchandise is offered to supplement the used merchandise. For the years ended 2008, 2007 and 2006, Once Upon A Child® contributed royalties and franchise fees of $5.7 million, $5.4 million and $4.9 million, respectively. As a percentage of consolidated revenues for 2008, 2007 and 2006, these amounts equaled 16.0%, 17.3% and 17.7%, respectively.
Platos Closet® - $164 million.
We began franchising the Platos Closet® brand in 1999. Platos Closet® franchises sell and buy used clothing and accessories geared toward the teenage and young adult market. Customers have the opportunity to sell their used items to a Platos Closet® franchise when gently-used or outgrown and to purchase quality used clothing and accessories at prices lower than new merchandise. For the years ended 2008, 2007 and 2006, Platos Closet® contributed royalties and franchise fees of $6.9 million, $5.4 million and $4.2 million, respectively. As a percentage of consolidated revenues for 2008, 2007 and 2006, these amounts equaled 19.5%, 17.2% and 15.2%, respectively.
Music Go Round® - $26 million.
We began franchising the Music Go Round® brand in 1994. Music Go Round® franchises sell, buy, trade and consign used and new musical instruments, speakers, amplifiers, music-related electronics and related accessories for parents of children who play musical instruments, as well as professional and amateur musicians. For the years ended 2008, 2007 and 2006, Music Go Round® contributed royalties and franchise fees of $0.8 million, $0.8 million and $0.8 million, respectively. As a percentage of consolidated revenues for 2008, 2007 and 2006, these amounts equaled 2.2%, 2.4% and 2.8%, respectively.
Wirth Business Credit®
We began franchising the Wirth Business Credit® business in 2006. The Wirth Business Credit® brand franchises leasing and financing services businesses that provide franchisees an array of small-ticket equipment leasing and financing options funded through Winmark or its affiliates to offer to customers for business essential equipment and assets. Wirth Business Credit® franchisees are paid a transaction fee for each leasing or financing transaction funded through Winmark or its affiliates, and as such Winmark Corporation does not receive royalties from Wirth Business Credit® franchisees.
The following table presents a summary of our franchising activity for the fiscal year ended December 27, 2008:
Retail Brands Franchising Overview
We use franchising as a business method of distributing goods and services through our retail brands to consumers. We also use franchising as a method to originate small-ticket leasing transactions with our Wirth Business Credit® franchises. We discuss our Wirth Business Credit® franchise system in the Equipment Leasing Operations subsection of this Business section. We, as franchisor, own a retail business brand, represented by a service mark or similar right, and an operating system for the franchised business. We then enter into franchise agreements with franchisees and grant the franchisee the right to use our business brand, service marks and operating system to manage a retail business. Franchisees are required to operate their retail businesses according to the systems, specifications, standards and formats we develop for the business brand. We train the franchisees how to operate the franchised business. We also provide continuing support and service to our franchisees.
We have developed value-oriented retail brands based on a mix of used and new merchandise. We franchise rights to franchisees who open franchised locations under such brands. The key elements of our franchise strategy include:
· franchising the rights to operate retail stores offering value-oriented merchandise;
· attracting new, qualified franchisees; and
· providing initial and continuing support to franchisees.
We have and will continue to reinvest operating cash flow generated from our business into:
· supporting the current franchise systems;
· making investments in infrastructure to support our corporate needs;
· supporting Wirth Business Credit, Inc. and Winmark Capital Corporation; and
· pursuing new business opportunities.
Offering Value-Oriented Merchandise
Our retail brands provide value to consumers by purchasing and reselling used merchandise that consumers have outgrown or no longer use at substantial savings from the price of new merchandise. We also offer value-priced new merchandise. By offering a combination of high-quality used and value-priced new merchandise, we benefit from consumer demand for value-oriented retailing. In addition, we believe that among national retail operations our retail store brands provide a unique source of value to consumers by purchasing used merchandise. We also believe that the strategy of buying used merchandise increases consumer awareness of our retail brands.
Our franchise marketing program for retail brands seeks to attract prospective franchisees with experience in management and operations and an interest in being the owner and operator of their own business. We seek franchisees who:
· have a sufficient net worth;
· have prior business experience; and
· intend to be integrally involved with the management of the business.
At December 27, 2008, we had 45 signed retail franchise agreements that are expected to open in 2009.
We began franchising in Canada in 1991 and, as of December 27, 2008, had 67 franchised retail stores open in Canada. The Canadian retail stores are operated by franchisees under agreements substantially similar to those used in the United States.
Retail Brand Franchise Support
As a franchisor, our success depends upon our ability to develop and support competitive and successful franchise brands. We emphasize the following areas of franchise support and assistance.
Each franchisee must attend our training program regardless of prior experience. Soon after signing a franchise agreement, the franchisee of one of our retail brands is required to attend new owner orientation training. This course covers basic management issues, such as preparing a business plan, lease evaluation, evaluating insurance needs and obtaining financing. Our training staff assists each franchisee in developing a business plan for their retail store with financial and cash flow projections. The second training session is centered on store operations. It covers, among other things, point-of-sale computer training, inventory selection and acquisition, sales, marketing and other topics. We provide the franchisee with operations manuals that we periodically update.
We provide operations personnel to assist the franchisee in the opening of a new business. We also have an ongoing field support program designed to assist franchisees in operating their retail stores. Our franchise support personnel visit each retail store periodically and, in most cases, a business assessment is made to determine whether the franchisee is operating in accordance with our standards. The visit is also designed to assist franchisees with operational issues.
During training each franchisee is taught how to evaluate, purchase and price used goods. In addition to purchasing used products from customers who bring merchandise to the store, the franchisee is also encouraged to develop sources for purchasing used merchandise in the community. Franchisees typically do not repair or recondition used products, but rather, purchase quality used merchandise that may be put directly on display for resale on an as is basis. We have developed specialized computer point-of-sale systems for Once Upon A Child® and Platos Closet® stores that provide the franchisee with standardized pricing information to assist in the purchasing of used items. Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon A Child® and Music Go Round® also use buying guides and the point-of-sale system to assist franchisees in pricing used items.
We provide centralized buying services including credit and billing for the Play It Again Sports® franchisees. Upon credit approval, Play It Again Sports® franchisees may order through the buying group, in which case, product is shipped directly to the store by the vendor. We are invoiced by the vendor, and in turn, we invoice the franchisee adding a 4% service fee to cover our costs of operating the buying group. Our Play It Again Sports® franchise system uses several major vendors including Horizon Fitness, Nautilus, Wilson Sporting Goods, Champro Sporting Goods, Easton-Bell Sports, RBK CCM Hockey and Bauer Hockey. The loss of any of the above vendors would change the vendor mix, but not significantly change our products offered. The amount of product being sold through the buying group has decreased over the past few years as a result of our strategic decision to have more franchisees purchase merchandise directly from vendors.
To provide the franchisees of our Once Upon A Child® and Music Go Round® systems a source of affordable new product, we have developed relationships with our significant vendors and negotiated prices for our franchisees to take advantage of the buying power a franchise system brings.
Our typical Once Upon A Child® franchised store purchases approximately 30% of its new product from Graco, Million Dollar Baby and Dorel Juvenile Group. The loss of any of the above vendors would change the vendor mix, but not significantly change our products offered.
There are no significant vendors to our typical Platos Closet® franchised store.
Retail Advertising and Marketing
We encourage our franchisees to implement a marketing program that includes one or more of the following: television, radio, direct mail, point-of-purchase materials, in store signage and local store marketing programs. Through these mediums, we advertise that we buy, sell and trade used and new items. Franchisees of the respective retail brands are required to spend the following minimum percentage of their gross sales on approved advertising and marketing: Play It Again Sports® - 5%, Once Upon A Child® - 5%, Platos Closet® - 5% and Music Go Round® - 5%. In addition, Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon A Child®, Platos Closet® and Music Go Round® are required to pay us an annual marketing fee. Franchisees may be required to participate in regional cooperative advertising groups.
Computerized Point-Of-Sale Systems
We require our retail brand franchisees to use a retail information management computer system in each store, which has evolved with the development of new technology. This computerized point-of-sale system is designed specifically for use in our franchise retail stores. The current system includes our proprietary Data Recycling System software, a dedicated server, two or more work station registers, a receipt printer, a report printer and a bar code scanner, together with software modules for inventory management, cash management and customer information management. Our franchisees purchase the computer hardware from us. We charge a fee of approximately 4% for handling and configuration of systems sold through us. The Data Recycling System software is designed to accommodate buying and consigning of used merchandise. This system provides franchisees with an important management tool that reduces errors, increases efficiencies and enhances inventory control. We provide point-of-sale system support through our Computer Support Center located at our Company headquarters.
Winmark Business Solutions
We established Winmark Business Solutions to provide business support services to franchisees and other small businesses. We provide a web site that:
· aggregates the purchasing power of small businesses, including our franchisees, which allows us to more effectively negotiate arrangements for products and services critical to most small businesses;
· provides an easy point of contact between vendors and small businesses;
· provides small business owners information and tools that will help them be successful at every stage of their small business;
· provides equipment leasing options for small businesses; and
· provides advertising and promotional opportunities for small businesses.
We have established preferred provider relationships with high quality vendors that provide small businesses a host of critical services. Included in the array of services available through the web site are accounting, tax and payroll services, copying and printing services, purchase of office supplies, credit card processing, loss prevention, business insurance, computer/POS equipment, and more. A small business becomes a member of Winmark Business Solutions by registration, which is free.
The Retail Franchise Agreement
We enter into franchise agreements with our franchisees. The following is a summary of certain key provisions of our current standard retail brand franchise agreement. Except as noted, the franchise agreements used for each of our retail brands are generally the same. The Franchise Agreement signed by Wirth Business Credit® franchisees is described in the Wirth Business Credit® Franchise System subsection of this Business section.
Each franchisee must execute our franchise agreement and pay an initial franchise fee. At December 27, 2008, the franchise fee for all brands was $20,000 for an initial store in the U.S. and $20,000CAD for an initial store in Canada. Once a franchisee opens its initial store, it can open additional stores, in any brand, by paying a $15,000 franchise fee for a store in the U.S. and $15,000CAD for a store in Canada, provided an acceptable territory is available and the franchisee meets the brands additional store standards. Beginning in March 2009, the franchise fee will increase to $25,000 for an initial store in the U.S. The franchise fee for our initial retail store and additional retail store in Canada is based upon the exchange rate applied to the United States fee on the last business day of the preceding fiscal year. The franchise fee in March 2009 for an initial retail store in Canada will be $30,000CAD, and an additional retail store in Canada will be $18,000CAD. Typically, the franchisees initial store is open for business within 270 days from the date the franchise agreement is signed. The franchise agreement has an initial term of 10 years, with subsequent 10-year renewal periods, and grants the franchisee an exclusive geographic area, which will vary in size depending upon population, demographics and other factors. A renewal fee of $5,000 is payable to us as part of any franchise renewal. As an incentive, we generally refund the renewal fee if a franchisee modernizes its store to meet our standards. Under current franchise agreements, franchisees of the respective brands are required to pay us weekly continuing fees (royalties) equal to the percentage of gross sales outlined in their Franchise Agreements, generally ranging from 4% to 5% for Play It Again Sports® and Once Upon A Child® and 3% for Music Go Round®. Beginning in March 2008, the royalty rate for new Platos Closet franchisees increased from 4% to 5%, and beginning in March 2009 the royalty rate for additional Platos Closet® stores for all franchisees will increase from 4% to 5%. Also beginning in March 2009, the royalty rate for Play It Again Sports® franchisees opening their second or additional store will increase from 4% to 5%.
Each franchisee is required to pay us an annual marketing fee of between $500 and $1,000. Each Play It Again Sports® and Once Upon A Child® franchisee is required to spend 5% of its gross sales for advertising and promoting its franchised store. We have the option to increase the minimum advertising expenditure requirement for these franchises to 6% of the franchisees gross sales, of which up to 2% would be paid to us as an advertising fee for deposit in an advertising fund. This fund, if initiated, would be managed by us and would be used for advertising and promotion of the franchise system. Beginning in March 2008, new and renewing Music Go Round® franchisees have the same advertising and promoting requirements as Play It Again Sports® and Once Upon A Child® franchisees. In 2007, Platos Closet® adopted the advertising and promotional requirements of Play It Again Sports® and Once Upon A Child® for new and renewing franchisees. Existing Music Go Round® franchisees are currently required to spend 3% of their gross sales for advertising and promoting their franchised stores, and Winmark has the option to increase the minimum advertising expenditure requirement for these franchisees to 4% of the franchisees gross sales, 1 ½% of which would be paid to us as an advertising fee for deposit in an advertising fund. Existing Platos Closet® franchisees prior to 2007 are required to spend at least 4% of gross sales for approved advertising, and Winmark has the same option to increase minimum advertising expenditures to 6% of the franchisees gross sales described above.
During the term of a franchise agreement, franchisees agree not to operate directly or indirectly any competitive business. In addition, franchisees agree that after the end of the term or termination of the franchise agreement, franchisees will not operate any competitive business for a period of one year and within a reasonable geographic area. We will pursue enforcement of our noncompetition clause vigorously; however, these noncompetition clauses are not enforceable in certain states or in all circumstances.
Although our franchise agreements contain provisions designed to assure the quality of a franchisees operations, we have less control over a franchisees operations than we would if we owned and operated a retail store. Under the franchise agreement, we have a right of first refusal on the sale of any franchised store, but we are not obligated to repurchase any franchise.
Renewal of the Franchise Relationship
At the end of the 10-year term of each franchise agreement, each franchisee has the option to renew the franchise relationship by signing a new 10-year franchise agreement. If a franchisee chooses not to sign a new franchise agreement, a franchisee must comply with all post termination obligations including the franchisees noncompetition clause discussed above. This noncompetition clause may not be enforceable in certain states or in all circumstances. We may choose not to renew the franchise relationship only when permitted by the franchise agreement and applicable state law.
In 2008, 9 Play It Again Sports® franchise agreements expired. Of those franchise relationships, 9 were renewed with the signing of a new 10-year franchise agreement. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 12, 26 and 56 Play It Again Sports® franchise agreements will expire, respectively.
In 2008, 8 Once Upon A Child® franchise agreements expired. Of those franchise relationships, 7 were renewed with the signing of a new 10-year franchise agreement. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 20, 20 and 8 Once Upon A Child® franchise agreements will expire, respectively.
In 2008, 6 Music Go Round® franchise agreements expired. Of those franchise agreements, 6 were renewed with the signing of a new 10-year franchise agreement. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 3, 1, and 0 Music Go Round® franchise agreements will expire, respectively.
In 2008, none of our Platos Closet® franchise agreements expired. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 11, 22 and 23 Platos Closet® franchise agreements will expire, respectively.
We believe that renewing a significant number of these franchise relationships is important to the success of the Company.
Retail Franchising Competition
Retailing, including the sale of sporting goods, childrens and teenage apparel, and musical instruments, is highly competitive. Many retailers have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. Our franchisees compete with established, locally owned retail stores, discount chains and traditional retail stores for sales of new merchandise. Full line retailers generally carry little or no used merchandise. Resale, thrift and consignment shops and garage and rummage sales offer some competition to our franchisees for the sale of used merchandise. Also, our franchisees increasingly compete with online used and new goods retailers such as eBay, Harmony Central and many others. We are aware of, and compete with, one franchisor of stores which sells new and used sporting equipment, two franchisors of stores which sell used and new childrens clothing, toys and accessories and one franchisor of teen apparel stores.
Our Play It Again Sports® franchisees compete with large retailers such as Dicks Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority as well as regional and local sporting goods stores. We also compete with Target and Wal-Mart .
Our Once Upon A Child® franchisees compete primarily with large retailers such as Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Target and various specialty childrens retail stores such as Gap Kids. We compete with one other franchisor in the specialty childrens retail market.
Our Platos Closet® franchise stores primarily compete with specialty apparel stores such as Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, Banana Republic and The Limited. We compete with one other franchisor in the teenage clothing retail market.
Our Music Go Round® franchise stores compete with large musical instrument retailers such as Guitar Center and Sam Ash Music. We do not believe we compete with any other franchisor directly in the used and new musical instrument market.
Our retail franchises may face additional competition in the future. This could include additional competitors that may enter the used merchandise market. We believe that our franchisees will continue to be able to compete with other retailers based on the strength of our value-oriented brands and the name recognition associated with our service marks.
We also face competition in connection with the sale of franchises. Our prospective franchisees frequently evaluate other franchise opportunities before purchasing a franchise from us. We compete with other franchise companies for franchisees based on the following factors, among others: amount of initial investment, franchise fee, royalty rate, profitability, franchisor services and industry. We believe that our franchise brands are competitive with other franchises based on the fees we charge, our franchise support services and the performance of our existing franchise brands.
Wirth Business Credit® Franchise System
We franchise the right to operate a small business equipment leasing and finance business under the brand Wirth Business Credit®. Franchisees in the Wirth Business Credit® franchise system market and sell small business equipment leasing and financing services offered by us.
Our franchise marketing program for Wirth Business Credit® seeks to attract prospective franchisees with a desire to operate their own sales and marketing business who:
· have a sufficient net worth;
· have prior sales or small business experience; and
· intend to be integrally involved in the operation of the franchise.
As a franchisor of Wirth Business Credit®, our lease originations volume depends heavily on our ability to support competitive and successful Wirth Business Credit® franchisees. We emphasize the following areas of franchise support and assistance in our Wirth Business Credit® franchise system:
· Marketing; and
· Ongoing Support.
Each franchisee, along with any hired salespersons, must attend our training program prior to commencing operations. Soon after signing the franchise agreement, a Wirth Business Credit® franchisee is required to participate in our training program. We begin with pre-training. At pre-training, we cover, among other topics, sales basics, owning your own business and valuation. Our franchisees next come to our headquarters for a week-long training session. This week-long training session covers the basics of leasing, market orientation, lead generation, selling to vendors, owning your own business, business planning, credit basics, marketing, computer and software training and the nature of our franchise relationship.
After the initial week of training, we continue to support our Wirth Business Credit® franchisees. We provide sales support to our franchisees through our territory managers in Minneapolis. Franchisees have the ability to regularly interact with our territory managers. Our territory managers provide the opportunity to each franchisee to work together on monthly sales planning and analysis. In addition, we deliver new tools and programs to our franchisees periodically.
We encourage our franchisees to implement a marketing program that includes one or more of the following: direct mail, direct email, advertising in approved industry and business publications, joining networking groups and telemarketing. Franchisees are required to spend 4% of their compensation on developing new customers in their local Market Area. Franchisees may be required to participate in regional cooperative advertising groups.
In addition to receiving support from their territory manager, operations managers support franchisees by expediting the lease transaction process. An operations manager ensures credit applications are complete, interfaces with the credit department, manages vendor relations and documents transactions a Wirth Business Credit® franchisee submits. We also provide any changes to the franchise system to our franchisees as they are available. We provide all updates to our Operations Manual to franchisees. We continue to develop marketing materials to assist franchisees in the generation of financing transactions.
Computer and Software
We require our franchisees to use our Tri-Link Lease Management computer system. This computer system allows our franchisees to submit and track leasing transactions. It also allows us to manage the lease transaction process.
The Franchise Agreement
We enter into 10-year franchise agreements with our franchisees. The following is a summary of certain key provisions of our current standard franchise agreement.
Each franchisee must execute our franchise agreement and pay an initial franchise fee. The Initial Franchise Fee for our standard market area is $35,000. However, beginning in March 2008, we amended our Pioneer Program, which offers a reduced initial franchise fee to prospective franchisees for their first territory and second territory. The Pioneer Program reduces the initial franchise fee to $22,500 for the first territory. In addition, $10,000 of the $22,500 fee is eligible for reimbursement from us if a franchisee spends amounts on qualified marketing expenditures within 12 months of signing the Franchise Agreement. For their second territory, the Initial Franchise Fee is $10,000, $5,000 of which is eligible for reimbursement from us if the franchisee spends amounts on qualified marketing expenditures with 12 months of signing the Franchise Agreement. Wirth may, at its discretion, award more than two territories at one time using the Pioneer Program.
Our franchisees pay no continuing fees in the form of royalty payments like the retail brand franchisees. Instead, a Wirth Business Credit® franchisees compensation primarily depends on the profit a franchisee adds to a transaction. Franchisees are paid monthly.
Our franchisees can only fund their transactions through us. During the term of a franchise agreement, franchisees agree not to operate any competitive business directly or indirectly. In addition, franchisees agree that after the end of the term or termination of the franchise agreement, franchisees will not operate any competitive business for 18 months within a reasonable geographic area. We will pursue enforcement of our non-competition clause vigorously; however, these non-competition clauses are not enforceable in certain states or all circumstances.
At the end of the term of each 10-year term of each Wirth Business Credit® franchise agreement, each franchisee has the option to renew the franchise relationship by signing a new 10-year franchise agreement. If a franchisee chooses not to sign a new franchise agreement, a franchisee must comply with all post termination obligations including the franchisees non-competition clause. In 2008, none of our Wirth Business Credit® franchise agreements expired, and none will expire in 2009, 2010 or 2011.
The small-ticket leasing industry is very competitive. Our franchisees compete directly with multiple financial institutions, many of which have greater financial resources than us. We compete with various other franchise opportunities for franchisees. We are not aware of any other companies offering similar franchising opportunities in the small-ticket financing industry.
Equipment Leasing Operations
We are engaged in the business of providing non-cancelable leases for high-technology and business-essential assets to both larger organizations and smaller, growing companies. We started our equipment leasing operations in April of 2004, and we are currently in the early stages of this portion of our business.
We operate our middle-market leasing operation through Winmark Capital Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary. We operate our small-ticket financing operation through Wirth Business Credit, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary (formerly known as Winmark Business Solutions, Inc.). We incorporated both of the corporations on April 2, 2004. To differentiate ourselves from our competitors in the leasing industry, we offer innovative lease and financing products and concentrate on building long-term, relationship-based associations with our customers and business alliances.
During the past three years, our leasing operations have experienced growth during this early stage period. Our leasing portfolio has grown from $7.0 million at the beginning of 2006 to $45.4 million at the end of 2008, and our operating losses from this segment have decreased from a loss of $3.3 million in 2006 to a loss of $1.9 million in 2008.
Winmark Capital Corporation
Winmark Capital Corporation focuses on middle-market transactions that generally have terms from two to five years and are with large organizations. We target businesses with annual revenue of $25 million or more. Such transactions are generally larger than $250,000 and include high-technology equipment and/or business essential equipment, including computers, telecommunications equipment, point-of-sale systems and other business-essential equipment. The leases are retained in our portfolio to accommodate equipment additions and upgrades to meet customers changing needs.
The high-technology equipment industry has been characterized by rapid and continuous advancements permitting broadened user applications and reductions in processing costs. The introduction of new equipment generally does not cause existing equipment to become obsolete but usually does cause the market value of existing equipment to decrease to reflect the improved performance per dollar cost of the new equipment. Users frequently replace equipment as their existing equipment becomes inappropriate for their needs or as increased data processing capacity is required, creating a secondary market in used equipment.
Generally, high-technology equipment, such as data processing equipment, does not suffer from material physical deterioration if properly maintained. Our leased equipment is kept under continual maintenance, in accordance with the manufacturers specifications, most often provided by the manufacturer. The economic life and residual value of data processing equipment is subject to, among other things, the development of technological improvements and changes in sale and maintenance terms initiated by the manufacturer.
Our business strategy allows us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors in the leasing industry. Key elements of this strategy include:
· Relationship Focus. We maintain a focused, long-term, customer-service approach to our business.
· Full Service. We can service the equipment leasing needs of large organizations through our middle-market operations and small organizations through our small-ticket operations. Our enterprise-wide capabilities allow us to service the needs of a large company and its many small business affiliates.
· Asset Ownership. We typically retain ownership of our leases and the underlying equipment.
Leasing and Sales Activities
Our middle-market lease products are marketed nationally through our principal office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and our satellite offices in Boulder and Denver, Colorado and Santa Barbara, California.
We market our leasing services directly to end-users and indirectly through business alliances, and through vendors of equipment, software, value-added services and consulting services. We attend trade shows and directly market to customers and prospects by telephone canvassing. We may also advertise in magazines or other periodicals in targeted industries.
We generally lease high-technology and other business-essential equipment for terms ranging from two to five years. Our standard lease agreements, entered into with each customer, are noncancelable net leases which contain hell-or-high water provisions under which the customer, upon acceptance of the equipment, must make all lease payments regardless of any defects or performance of the equipment, and which require the customer to maintain and service the equipment, insure the equipment against casualty loss and pay all property, sales and other taxes related to the equipment. We retain ownership of the equipment we lease and, in the event of default by the customer, we or the financial institution to whom the lease payment has been assigned may declare the customer in default, accelerate all lease payments due under the lease and pursue other available remedies, including repossession of the equipment. Upon expiration of the initial term or extended lease term, depending on the structure of the lease, the customer may:
· return the equipment to us;
· renew the lease for an additional term; or
· purchase the equipment.
If the equipment is returned to us, it will be either re-leased to another customer or sold into the secondary-user marketplace.
Additionally, we may lease operating system and application software to our customers, but typically only with a hardware lease.
Wirth Business Credit, Inc.
Our small-ticket financing operation serves the needs of small businesses. Small-ticket financing transactions are typically between $5,000 and $250,000, have terms of between two and five years and cover business essential assets, including computers, printing equipment, security systems, telecommunications equipment, car wash equipment, production equipment and other assets. Small-ticket financing products are marketed under the trade name Wirth Business Credit® through our network of Wirth Business Credit® franchisees or directly through our employed sales representatives.
The small ticket finance industry is highly fragmented and competitive. Small business owners typically finance their businesses through one of many possible sources including banks, vendor captive finance companies, leasing brokers, credit card companies and independent leasing companies. These sources of funding typically limit their focus to certain types of transactions and may base their decision on credit quality, geography, size of transaction, type of asset or other criteria. The small-ticket finance industry is very competitive, however, small business owners do not generally receive the same level of customer service as larger businesses do. Small business owners desire products that are convenient, easy to understand, competitive and come from a trusted source.
Key elements of our small-ticket business strategy include:
· Local Presence. Through a network of franchisees, Wirth Business Credit® maintains a local presence in its markets.
· Relationship Focus. We maintain a focused, long-term, customer-service approach to our business. In our small-ticket segment, we establish relationships with companies that control or have influence over multiple smaller businesses such as franchisors, equipment vendors and associations.
· Customer Service. We understand that small business owners desire a convenient, flexible financing solution. We provide fast credit decisions, flexible terms and an easy to understand process.
We originate financing transactions through our Wirth Business Credit® franchisees and territory managers employed by Wirth Business Credit, Inc. We focus our sales efforts on establishing relationships with organizations with influence over many small businesses such as vendors, franchisors and trade associations.
As described above, we franchise the right to operate small businesses under the name Wirth Business Credit®. Our franchisees in our Wirth Business Credit® franchise system are dedicated to originating equipment lease and financing transactions. Our franchisees build business relationships at the local level and also have the support and infrastructure of a national leasing company.
We generally finance business-essential assets for terms ranging from two to five years. Our financing transactions are generally full pay out transactions, which means, after paying all required payments under the financing agreement, the customer owns the asset.
Our ability to arrange financing is important to our middle-market leasing and our small-ticket financing businesses.
Winmark Capital Corporation will from time to time arrange permanent financing of leases through non-recourse discounting of lease rentals with various financial institutions at fixed interest rates. The proceeds from the assignment of the lease rentals will be generally equal to the present value of the remaining lease payments due under the lease, discounted at the interest rate charged by the financial institution. Interest rates obtained under this type of financing will be negotiated on a transaction-by-transaction basis and reflect the financial strength of the customer, the term of the lease and the prevailing interest rates. For leases discounted on a non-recourse basis, the financial institution will have no recourse against us unless we are in default of the terms of the agreement under which the lease and the leased equipment will be assigned to the institution as collateral. The institution may, however, take title to the collateral in the event the customer fails to make lease payments or certain other defaults by the customer occur under the terms of the lease.
To date, we have funded the vast majority of our leases internally using our available cash, bank or subordinated debt. Leases are funded internally for a variety of reasons, including:
· we may have a sufficient amount of cash on hand;
· lease amounts are too small to be attractive to financial institutions;
· the credit strength of the customer is acceptable only for recourse funding; or
· when we intend to discount a lease but the discounting process has not been completed.
We will rely on recourse bank facilities to fund both our middle-market and small-ticket portfolios. We currently have a $55 million line of credit with Bank of America, N.A. We may also use the proceeds from our offering of $50 million in principal of unsecured subordinated debt of varying interest rates and maturity dates filed on Form S-1 to fund both our middle-market and small-ticket portfolios. As of December 27, 2008, we had $20.8 million outstanding in unsecured subordinated notes.
Equipment Leasing Competition
We compete with a variety of equipment financing sources that are available to businesses, including: national, regional and local finance companies that provide lease and loan products; financing through captive finance and leasing companies affiliated with major equipment manufacturers; credit card companies; and commercial banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. Many of these companies are substantially larger than we are and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do.
Some of our competitors have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that are not available to us. A lower cost of funds could enable a competitor to offer leases with yields that are much less than the yields that we use to price our leases, which might force us to lower our yields or lose lease origination volume. In addition, certain of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could enable them to establish more origination sources and end user customer relationships and increase their market share. We have and will continue to encounter significant competition.
Fourteen states, the Federal Trade Commission and three Canadian Provinces impose pre-sale franchise registration and/or disclosure requirements on franchisors. In addition, a number of states have statutes which regulate substantive aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship such as termination, nonrenewal, transfer, discrimination among franchisees and competition with franchisees.
Additional legislation, both at the federal and state levels, could expand pre-sale disclosure requirements, further regulate substantive aspects of the franchise relationship and require us to file our Franchise Disclosure Documents with additional states. We cannot predict the effect of future franchise legislation, but do not believe there is any imminent legislation currently under consideration which would have a material adverse impact on our operations.
Although most states do not directly regulate the commercial equipment lease financing business, certain states require licensing of lenders and finance companies, and impose limitations on interest rates and other charges, and a disclosure of certain contract terms and constrain collection practices. We believe that we are currently in compliance with all material statutes and regulations that are applicable to our business.
Trademarks and Service Marks
Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon A Child®, Platos Closet®, Music Go Round®, Winmark®, Winmark Business Solutions®, Wirth Business Credit®, Winmark Capital® and LeaseManager®, among others, are our registered service marks. These marks are of considerable value to our business. We intend to protect our service marks by appropriate legal action where and when necessary. Each service mark registration must be renewed every 10 years. We have taken, and intend to continue to take, all steps necessary to renew the registration of all our material service marks.
Our Play It Again Sports® and Music Go Round® franchise brands have experienced higher than average sales volumes during the holiday shopping season. Our Once Upon A Child® and Platos Closet® franchise brands have experienced higher than average sales volumes during the spring months and, along with our Music Go Round® brand, also during the back to school season. Overall, the different seasonal trends of our brands partially offset each other and do not result in significant seasonality trends on a Company-wide basis. Our equipment leasing business is not seasonal; however, quarter to quarter results may vary significantly.
As of December 27, 2008, we employed 104 full-time and two part-time employees, of which 14 were salespersons, 58 were support personnel and 34 were administrative.
We are dependent on franchise renewals.
Each of our franchise agreements is 10 years long. At the end of the term of each franchise agreement, each franchisee has the option to renew the franchise relationship by signing a new 10-year franchise agreement. In 2008, of the 9 franchisees that had their Play It Again Sports® franchise agreement expire, 9 signed new 10-year franchise agreements. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 12, 26 and 56 Play It Again Sports® franchise agreements will expire, respectively. In 2008, of the 8 franchisees that had their Once Upon A Child® franchise agreement expire, 7 signed new 10-year franchise agreements. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 20, 20 and 8 Once Upon A Child® franchise agreements will expire, respectively. In 2008, of the 6 franchisees that had Music Go Round® franchise agreement expire, 6 signed new 10-year franchise agreements. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 3, 1 and 0 Music Go Round® franchise agreements will expire, respectively. In 2008, none of our Platos Closet® franchise agreements expired. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 11, 22 and 23 Platos Closet® franchise agreements will expire, respectively. We believe that renewing a significant number of these franchise relationships is important to our continued success. If a significant number of franchise relationships are not renewed our financial performance would be materially and adversely impacted.
We are dependent on new franchisees.
Our ability to generate increased revenue and achieve higher levels of profitability depends in part on increasing the number of franchises open. While we believe that many larger and smaller markets will continue to provide significant opportunities for sales of franchises, continuing unfavorable macro-economic conditions may affect the ability of potential franchisees to obtain external financing and/or impact their net worth, both of which could lead to a lower level of openings than we have historically experienced. There can be no assurance that we will sustain our current level of franchise openings.
We are dependent upon our chief executive officer.
Our success depends greatly on the efforts and abilities of our key executive John L. Morgan, our chairman of the board and chief executive officer. The loss of the services of Mr. Morgan could materially harm our business. Such a loss would also divert management attention away from operational issues.
We may sell franchises for a territory, but the franchisee may not open.
We believe that a substantial majority of franchises sold but not opened will open within the time period permitted by the applicable franchise agreement or we will be able to resell the territories for most of the terminated or expired franchises. However, there can be no assurance that substantially all of the currently sold but unopened franchises will open and commence paying royalties to us. At December 27, 2008, we had 45 franchise agreements expected to open in 2009.
Our retail franchisees are dependent on supply of used merchandise.
Our retail brands are based on offering customers a mix of used and new merchandise. As a result, the ability of our franchisees to obtain continuing supplies of high quality used merchandise is important to the success of our brands. Supply of used merchandise comes from the general public and is not regular or highly reliable. There can be no assurance that our franchisees will avoid supply problems with respect to used merchandise.
On February 10, 2009, new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act took effect whereby childrens products, whether new or used, cannot be lawfully sold in the United States if they contain more than a specified amount of lead and phthalates.
Our Once Upon a Child® franchisees, and to a lesser extent, our Play It Again Sports® franchisees, buy and sell used childrens products. Adherence to these new requirements may limit the amount of used childrens merchandise available to our franchisees and could therefore have an adverse impact on our brands.
We may be unable to collect accounts receivable from franchisees.
In the event that our ability to collect accounts receivable significantly declines from current rates, we may incur additional charges that would affect earnings. If we are unable to collect payments due from our franchisees, it would materially adversely impact our results of operation and financial condition.
We operate in extremely competitive industries.
Retailing, including the sale of sporting goods, childrens and teenage apparel and musical instruments, is highly competitive. Many retailers have significantly greater financial and other resources than us and our franchisees. Individual franchisees face competition in their markets from retailers of new merchandise and, in certain instances, resale, thrift and other stores that sell used merchandise. To date, our franchisees have not faced a high degree of competition in the sale of used merchandise, but do so in connection with the sale of new merchandise. However, we may face additional competition as our franchise systems expand and if additional competitors enter the used merchandise market.
Our equipment leasing businesses compete with a variety of equipment financing sources that are available to businesses, including: national, regional, and local finance companies that provide leases and loan products; financing through captive finance and leasing companies affiliated with major equipment manufacturers; and commercial banks, savings and loans, credit unions and credit cards. Many of these companies are substantially larger than we are and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do. There can be no assurances that we will be able to successfully compete with these larger competitors.
We are in the early stages of our equipment leasing operations and there can be no assurance that we will be successful.
We began our equipment leasing operations in April of 2004. We began franchising Wirth Business Credit® in 2006. As a result, there can be no assurance that any of our planned future leasing activities will be successful. An inability to successfully operate our equipment leasing business will have a material adverse impact on our financial results.
We are subject to credit risk from nonpayment or slow payments in our lease portfolio.
In our leasing business, if we inaccurately assess the creditworthiness of our customers, we may experience a higher number of lease defaults than expected, which would reduce our earnings. For our smaller customers, there is typically only limited publicly available financial and other information about their businesses and they often do not have audited financial statements. Accordingly, in making credit decisions, we rely upon the accuracy of information from the small business owner and/or third party sources, such as credit reporting agencies. If the information we obtain from small business owners and/or third party sources is incorrect, our ability to make appropriate credit decisions will be impaired.
If losses from leases exceed our allowance for credit losses, our operating income will be reduced. In connection with our leases, we record an allowance for credit losses to provide for estimated losses. Determining the appropriate level of the allowance is an inherently uncertain process and therefore our determination of this allowance may prove to be inadequate to cover losses in connection with our portfolio of leases. Losses in excess of our allowance for credit losses would cause us to increase our provision for credit losses, reducing or eliminating our operating income.
During 2008, our provision for credit losses increased to $2,569,800 from $603,700 in 2007, primarily due to a higher level of net charge-offs in the small-ticket financing business portion of our leasing segment, as well as an increase in our allowance for credit losses due to the worsening general economic trends that have increased the level of delinquencies in this business. During 2008, we had total net charge-offs of $1,644,700 compared to $424,100 in 2007. Continued charge-offs at these levels or higher would have a material adverse impact on the profitability of our leasing operations.
Deteriorated economic or business conditions may negatively impact our leasing business.
In an economic slowdown or recession, our equipment leasing businesses may face an increase in delinquent payments, lease defaults and credit losses. The volume of leasing business for our new and existing customers may decline, as well as the credit quality of our customers. Because we extend credit primarily to small businesses through our subsidiary Wirth Business Credit, Inc., and to many emerging companies through our subsidiary Winmark Capital Corporation, our customers may be particularly susceptible to economic slowdowns or recessions. Any protracted economic slowdowns or recessions may make it difficult for us to maintain the volume of lease originations for new and existing customers, and may deteriorate the credit quality of new leases. Any of these events may slow the growth of our leasing portfolio and impact the profitability of our leasing operations.
We must control our selling, general and administrative expense to be successful.
Our ability to control the amount, and rate of growth in, selling, general and administrative expenses and the impact of unusual items resulting from our ongoing evaluation of our business strategies, asset valuations and organizational structures is important to our financial success. We expect to incur significant additional expenses in connection with the expansion of Wirth Business Credit, Inc. and Winmark Capital Corporation. In the near term, our leasing income may not exceed our expenses. We cannot assure any investor that we will be able to control such items of expense.
We currently have investments in two private companies.
We have purchased 18.3% of the common stock of Tomsten, Inc., a privately held corporation (d/b/a Archivers). Archivers is a retail concept created to help people preserve and enjoy their photographs. Archivers stores feature a wide variety of photo-safe products, including photo albums, scrapbooks and scrapbook supplies, frames, rubber stamps, and photo storage and organization products.
Since the inception of our investment in 2002, Archivers has lost over $12.4 million in pre-tax income. Our pro rata share of Archivers losses has equaled $2.3 million. During 2008, we recorded an impairment charge of $2.8 million for a portion of our investment in Archivers to adjust the carrying value of this investment to its expected realizable value. As of December 27, 2008, the carrying value of our $7.5 million investment equaled $2.3 million. If Archivers continues to sustain losses, it may need to seek external financing in the form of equity and/or debt. There can be no assurance that Archivers will be able to obtain additional financing. Any continued losses or inability to obtain financing on attractive terms may result in a further impairment of the carrying value of our investment and a reduction in our book value and profitability.
On October 13, 2004, we made a commitment to lend $2 million to BridgeFunds Limited at an annual rate of 12% pursuant to several senior subordinated promissory notes. Each note has a maturity of five years. BridgeFunds advances funds to claimants involved in civil litigation to cover litigation expenses. We have funded our $2 million commitment. In addition, we own a warrant to purchase 6.5% of the equity of BridgeFunds on a fully diluted basis. On August 23, 2007, in connection with raising capital, BridgeFunds Limited completed a restructuring where all assets and liabilities, including the warrant, were assigned to and assumed by BridgeFunds, LLC (BridgeFunds). BridgeFunds success depends upon its ability to continue to raise capital. There can be no assurance that BridgeFunds will be able to raise capital to fund its operations.
Each of our current minority investments is either in a relatively new or unproven business. Either of these businesses may not succeed and ultimately be forced to cease operations. Also, there is not a market for the equity of Tomsten, Inc. or BridgeFunds, and as a result our shares of stock in Tomsten and our BridgeFunds warrant may be of no value. Our ability to receive our investment back and realize a cash return on our investment in these companies will depend on the development of a market for such companies equity or the sale of such companies. In addition, BridgeFunds may not have the ability to pay interest on amounts owed to us or to repay principal amounts owed to us.
The loss of our entire investment in any one or both of our current minority investments would have a material adverse impact on our financial results.
From time to time, we have and will continue to make investments outside of our franchise and leasing businesses. There can be no assurance that such investments will be profitable.
We are subject to restrictions in our credit facility and our subordinated note indenture. Additionally, we are subject to counterparty risk in our credit facility.
The terms of our $55.0 million credit facility with Bank of America and The PrivateBank impose certain operating and financial restrictions on us and require us to meet certain financial tests including tests related to minimum levels of debt service coverage and tangible net worth and maximum levels of leverage. The terms of the indenture governing our $50.0 million subordinated note offering contain limited restrictive covenants, which include requiring us to maintain a positive net worth. As of December 27, 2008, we were in compliance with all of our financial covenants; however, failure to comply with these covenants in the future may result in default under one or both of these sources of capital and could result in acceleration of the related indebtedness. Any such acceleration of indebtedness would have an adverse impact on our business activities and financial condition.
Recent events in the worldwide credit markets have had an adverse impact on the general availability of credit. Although our credit facility does not expire until June 2010, continued market deterioration could jeopardize the counterparty obligations of one or both of the banks participating in this facility, which could have an adverse impact on our business if we are not able to replace such credit facility or find other sources of liquidity on acceptable terms.
We are subject to government regulation.
As a franchisor, we are subject to various federal and state franchise laws and regulations. Fourteen states, the Federal Trade Commission and three Canadian Provinces impose pre-sale franchise registration and/or disclosure requirements on franchisors. In addition, a number of states have statutes which regulate substantive aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship such as termination, nonrenewal, transfer, discrimination among franchisees and competition with franchisees.
Additional legislation, both at the federal and state levels, could expand pre-sale disclosure requirements, further regulate substantive aspects of the franchise relationship and require us to file our franchise offering circulars with additional states. Future franchise legislation could impose costs or other burdens on us that could have a material adverse impact on our operations.
Although most states do not directly regulate the commercial equipment lease financing business, certain states require licensing of lenders and finance companies, impose limitations on interest rates and other charges, constrain collection practices and require disclosure of certain contract terms. Laws or regulations may be adopted with respect to our equipment leases or the equipment leasing industry, and collection processes. Any new legislation or regulation, or changes in the interpretation of existing laws, which affect the equipment leasing industry could increase our costs of compliance.
We leased 34,184 square feet at our former headquarters facility in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Our base rent was $218,980 per year. We were obligated to pay the common area maintenance and other additional rent relating to the entire 34,184 square feet. In 2008, we paid an annual base rent of $218,980 plus common area maintenance charges of approximately $319,700. On September 9, 2008, we signed a letter agreement (Amendment) amending the lease for this facility with Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, Inc. (Koch). The Amendment, among other things, allowed us to either vacate the premises and cancel the lease anytime after December 1, 2008 by giving 90 days prior written notice or receive a payment from Koch if we occupied the premises through the end of the lease term, which was scheduled to expire in August 2009. In November 2008, we provided such written notice to Koch of our plan to vacate the premises and cancel the lease as of February 2009.
On September 26, 2008, we signed a Lease (Lease) with Utah State Retirement Investment Fund (Landlord) for 33,513 square feet of space to use as our new corporate headquarters. The term of the Lease will be ten years and six months from the commencement of the lease in the first quarter of 2009. We are obligated to pay rent monthly under the Lease, and will pay an estimated $5.1 million in total rental payments over the entire term of the Lease. We are also obligated to pay Landlords estimated taxes and operating expenses as described in the Lease, which change annually. The total rentals, taxes and operating expenses paid may increase if we exercise any of our rights to acquire additional space described in the Lease.
We are not a party to any material litigation and are not aware of any threatened litigation that would have a material adverse effect on our business.
No matters were submitted to a vote of security holders during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008.
Market Information, Holders, Dividends
Effective December 2, 2003, the trading of our common stock moved from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market, now known as the Nasdaq Capital Market, to the Nasdaq National Market, now known as the Nasdaq Global Market, under the symbol WINA. The table below sets forth the high and low bid prices of our common stock as reported by Nasdaq for the quarterly periods indicated:
The above quotations reflect inter-dealer prices, without retail mark-up, mark-down or commission, and may not necessarily represent actual transactions. At March 12, 2009, there were 5,381,669 shares of common stock outstanding held by approximately 117 shareholders of record. We have not paid any cash dividends on our common stock and do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
(1) The Board of Directors authorization for the repurchase of shares of the Companys common stock was originally approved in 1995 with no expiration date. The total shares approved for repurchase has been increased by additional Board of Directors approvals and as of December 27, 2008 was limited to 4,000,000 shares, of which 74,541 may still be repurchased.
The following table sets forth selected financial information for the periods indicated. The information should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes discussed in Item 8 and 15, and Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations discussed in Item 7.
(1) Included in gain (loss) from equity investments is a $2,839,100 impairment charge for the partial write off of the Companys investment in Tomsten, Inc. in 2008 and a $937,600 impairment charge for the write off of the Companys investment in eFrame, LLC in 2005.
(2) In accordance with GAAP, prior periods are presented assuming the Company had used the equity method of accounting since the inception of the Companys investment in Tomsten, Inc. (See Note 3).
As of December 27, 2008, we had 924 franchises operating under the Play it Again Sports®, Once Upon a Child®, Platos Closet®, Music Go Round® and Wirth Business Credit® brands and had a leasing portfolio of $45.4 million. Management closely tracks the following criteria to evaluate current business operations and future prospects: franchising revenue, leasing activity, and selling, general and administrative expenses.
Our most profitable sources of franchising revenue are royalties earned from our franchise partners and franchise fees for new openings and transfers. During 2008, our royalties increased $1,357,400 or 6.6% compared to 2007. Franchise fees decreased $19,600 or 1.1% compared to last year.
During 2008, we purchased $21.9 million in equipment for lease contracts compared to $33.6 million in 2007. The level of equipment purchases for lease contracts during 2008 was impacted by the unfavorable general economic environment as well as our decision to tighten credit standards in response to these conditions. Overall, our leasing portfolio (net investment in leases current and long-term) grew 8.4% to $45.4 million at December 27, 2008 from $41.9 million at December 29, 2007. Revenue generated from our leasing activities in 2008 was $8,092,800 compared to $4,416,200 in the same period last year. (See Note 12 Segment Reporting). Our earnings are also significantly impacted by credit losses. During 2008, our provision for credit losses increased to $2,569,800 from $603,700 in 2007, primarily due to a higher level of net charge-offs in the small-ticket financing business portion of our leasing segment, as well as an increase in our allowance for credit losses due to the worsening general economic trends that have increased the level of delinquencies in this business.
Management continually monitors the level and timing of selling, general and administrative expenses. The major components of selling, general and administrative expenses include salaries, wages and benefits, advertising, travel, occupancy, legal and professional fees. During 2008, selling, general and administrative expense increased $492,800, or 2.6%, compared to the same period last year primarily due to increases in amortization of initial direct costs, stock option expenses and bank fees, partially offset by a decrease in development advertising.
Management also monitors several nonfinancial factors in evaluating the current business operations and future prospects including franchise openings and closings and franchise renewals. The following is a summary of our franchising activity for the fiscal year ended December 27, 2008:
Renewal activity is a key focus area for management. Our franchisees sign 10-year agreements with us. The renewal of existing franchise agreements as they approach their expiration is an indicator that management monitors to determine the health of our business and the preservation of future royalties. In 2008, we renewed 96% of franchise agreements up for renewal. This percentage of renewal has ranged between 96% and 100% during the last three years.
Our ability to grow our profits is dependent on our ability to: (i) effectively support our franchise partners so that they produce higher revenues, (ii) open new franchises, (iii) increase lease originations and minimize write-offs in our leasing portfolios, and (iv) control our selling, general and administrative expenses. A detailed description of the risks to our business along with other risk factors can be found in Item 1A Risk Factors.
Results of Operations
The following table sets forth selected information from our Consolidated Statements of Operations expressed as a percentage of total revenue and the percentage change in the dollar amounts from the prior period:
Revenues for the year ended December 27, 2008 totaled $35.4 million compared to $31.2 million for the comparable period in 2007.
Royalties and Franchise Fees
Royalties increased to $21.8 million for 2008 from $20.4 million for the same period in 2007, a 6.6% increase. The increase was due to higher Platos Closet® and Once Upon A Child® royalties of $1,479,300 and $425,900, respectively. The increase in Platos Closet® and Once Upon A Child® royalties is primarily due to having 30 additional Platos Closet® and 1 additional Once Upon A Child® franchise stores in 2008 compared to the same period last year and higher franchisee retail sales in both brands.
Franchise fees include initial franchise fees from the sale of new franchises and transfer fees related to the transfer of existing franchises. Franchise fee revenue is recognized when the franchise opens or when the franchise agreement is assigned to a buyer of a franchise. An overview of retail brand and Wirth Business Credit® franchise fees is presented in the Franchising subsection of the Business section. Franchise fees decreased to $1,704,500 for 2008 from $1,724,100 for 2007, primarily as a result of opening three fewer franchise territories in 2008 compared to 2007.
Leasing income increased to $8,092,800 in 2008 compared to $4,416,200 for the same period in 2007. The increase is due to a larger lease portfolio in 2008 compared to 2007. Our monthly average lease portfolio during 2008 was $45.3 million compared to $29.2 million during 2007.
Merchandise sales include the sale of product to franchisees either through the Play It Again Sports® buying group or through our Computer Support Center (together, Direct Franchisee Sales). Direct Franchisee Sales decreased 18.3% to $3,268,100 in 2008 from $3,999,500 in 2007. This is a result of managements strategic decision to have more franchisees purchase merchandise directly from vendors and having 10 fewer Play It Again Sports® stores open than one year ago.
Cost of Merchandise Sold
Cost of merchandise sold includes in-bound freight and the cost of merchandise associated with Direct Franchisee Sales. Cost of merchandise sold decreased 18.7% to $3,120,700 in 2008 from $3,837,200 in 2007. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease in Direct Franchisee Sales discussed above. Cost of merchandise sold as a percentage of Direct Franchisee Sales for 2008 and 2007 was 95.5% and 95.9%, respectively.
Leasing expense increased to $1,881,800 in 2008 compared to $1,031,000 in 2007. The increase is due to interest on increased borrowing in connection with the growth of our lease portfolio.
Provision for Credit Losses
Provision for credit losses increased to $2,569,800 in 2008 compared to $603,700 in 2007. The increase is primarily due to a higher level of net charge-offs in the small-ticket financing business portion of our leasing segment. During 2008, we had total net charge-offs of $1,644,700 compared to $424,100 in 2007. In addition, we increased our allowance for credit losses during 2008 due to worsening general economic trends that have increased the level of delinquencies in our small-ticket financing business.
Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
The $492,800, or 2.6%, increase in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2008 compared to the same period in 2007 is primarily due to increases in amortization of initial direct costs resulting from the larger lease portfolio, compensation expense related to stock options and bank fees of $479,000, $142,000 and $141,000, respectively, partially offset by a $365,000 decrease in development advertising.
Loss from Equity Investments
During 2008 and 2007, we recorded losses of $324,100 and $359,600, respectively, from our investment in Tomsten (representing our pro-rata share of losses for the periods). In addition, as part of an impairment analysis during 2008 we determined that the carrying value of our investment was not expected to be fully recoverable from the future cash flows of the Tomsten business and we recorded an impairment charge of $2,839,100. (See Item 1A Risk Factors as well as Note 3 Investments).
Interest expense decreased to $1,305,000 in 2008 compared to $1,456,800 in 2007. The decrease is due to lower interest rates and lower corporate borrowings.
Interest and Other Income
During 2008, we had interest and other income of $224,600 compared to $539,100 of interest and other income in 2007. The decrease is primarily due to the sale of the Commercial Credit Group senior subordinated notes in August 2007 and foreign currency transaction losses incurred in 2008. (See Item 7A Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk).
The provision for income taxes was calculated at an effective rate of 70.4% and 40.9% for 2008 and 2007, respectively. The higher effective rate in 2008 compared to 2007 reflects our recording of a $1.2 million deferred tax asset valuation allowance for losses from and impairment of our investment in Tomsten in 2008, partially offset by an adjustment to uncertain tax positions of $127,300 in 2008.
Segment Comparison of the Year Ended December 27, 2008 to
Year Ended December 29, 2007
We currently have two reportable business segments, franchising and leasing. The franchising segment franchises value-oriented retail store concepts that buy, sell, trade and consign merchandise and Wirth Business Credit, Inc., our small-ticket leasing franchise. The leasing segment, which commenced operations in 2004, includes (i) Winmark Capital Corporation, our middle-market equipment leasing business and (ii) Wirth Business Credit, Inc., our small-ticket financing business. Segment reporting is intended to give financial statement users a better view of how we manage and evaluate our businesses. Our internal management reporting is the basis for the information disclosed for our business segments and includes allocation of shared-service costs. The following tables summarize financial information by segment and provide a reconciliation of segment contribution to operating income:
Franchising segment operating income
The franchising segments 2008 operating income increased by $881,800, or 9.7%, to $10.0 million from $9.1 million for 2007. The increase in segment contribution was primarily due to higher royalty income of $1,357,400 and a decrease in development advertising of $365,000, partially offset by increases in selling, general and administrative expenses and corporate shared-service cost allocations. The increase in royalties was primarily due to higher Platos Closet® and Once Upon A Child® royalties of $1,479,300 and $425,900, respectively. The increase in Platos Closet® and Once Upon A Child® royalties is primarily due to having 30 additional Platos Closet® and 1 additional Once Upon A Child® franchise stores open in 2008 compared to the same period last year and higher franchisee retail sales in both brands.
Leasing segment operating loss
The leasing segments 2008 operating loss decreased $783,400 or 28.9% to ($1.9 million) compared to a loss of ($2.7 million) during 2007. This improvement was primarily due to a $3,676,600 increase in leasing income partially offset by an $850,800 increase in leasing expense, a $1,966,100 increase in provision for credit losses and a $479,000 increase in amortization of initial direct costs.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Our primary sources of liquidity have historically been cash flow from operations and borrowings. The components of the income statement that affect our liquidity include non-cash items for depreciation, compensation expense related to stock options and loss from and impairment of equity investments. The most significant component of the balance sheet that affects liquidity is long-term investments. Long-term investments include $4.3 million of illiquid investments in two private companies: Tomsten, Inc. and BridgeFunds LLC.
We ended 2008 with $2.1 million in cash and cash equivalents and a current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities) of 1.3 to 1.0 compared to $1.3 million in cash and cash equivalents and a current ratio of 1.0 to 1.0 at the end of 2007.
Operating activities provided $9.0 million of cash during 2008 compared to $6.7 million during 2007. Cash provided by operating assets and liabilities include an increase in advance and security deposits of $860,500 due to increased lease originations. Accrued liabilities provided cash of $403,500 primarily due to increased accrued compensation and interest accrued on borrowings. Accounts receivable provided cash of $269,900 primarily due to lease chargeback collections. Cash utilized by operating assets and liabilities include a $305,900 decrease in accounts payable due to a decrease in amounts owed for lease equipment purchases.
Investing activities used $7.6 million of cash during 2008 compared to $22.5 million during 2007. The 2008 activities consisted primarily of the purchase of equipment for lease contracts of $21.9 million and collections on lease receivables of $14.9 million.
Financing activities used $0.5 million of cash during 2008 compared to $16.1 million provided during 2007. The 2008 activities were proceeds from discounted leases of $3.0 million and a $1.0 million tax benefit on exercised warrants, net payments of $2.8 million on the line of credit and subordinated notes and $1.7 million used to purchase 110,213 shares of our common stock.
We have future operating lease commitments for our corporate headquarters and have remained a guarantor on Company-owned retail stores that have been previously sold or closed at December 27, 2008. As of December 27, 2008, we had no other material outstanding commitments. See Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements.
As of December 27, 2008, we had no off balance sheet arrangements.
On June 10, 2008, we amended and restated our 364-Day Revolving Credit Agreement with Bank of America, N.A. to, among other things, join the PrivateBank and Trust Company as lender and Documentation Agent, appoint Bank of America as Administrative Agent, increase the aggregate commitment to $55.0 million and extend the term to June 15, 2013. The Amended and Restated Revolving Credit Agreement (the Credit Facility) permits us to borrow up to the aggregate commitment subject to certain borrowing base limitations.
The Credit Facility allows us to choose between three interest rate options in connection with our borrowings. The interest rate options are the Base Rate, LIBOR and Fixed Rate (all as defined within the Credit Facility) plus an applicable margin of 0%, 2.00% and 2.00%, respectively. Interest periods for LIBOR borrowings can be one, two, three or six months, and interest periods for Fixed Rate borrowings can be one, two, three, four or five years as selected by us. The Credit Facility also provides for non-utilization fees of 0.25% per annum on the daily average of the unused commitment.
As of December 27, 2008, our borrowing availability under the Credit Facility was $55.0 million (the lesser of the borrowing base or the aggregate line of credit). There were $13.1 million in borrowings outstanding bearing Fixed Rate interest ranging from 4.58% to 5.76% and having initial terms ranging from three years to five years, and $0.5 million in borrowings bearing Base Rate interest of 3.25%, leaving $41.4 million available for additional borrowings.
The Credit Facility will be used for growing our leasing business, stock repurchases and general corporate purposes. The Credit Facility is secured by a lien against substantially all of our assets, contains customary financials conditions and covenants, and requires maintenance of minimum levels of debt service coverage and tangible net worth and maximum levels of leverage (all as defined within the Credit Facility). As of December 27, 2008, we were in compliance with all of our financial covenants.
On April 19, 2006, we announced the filing of a shelf registration on Form S-1 registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the sale of up to $50 million of renewable subordinated unsecured notes with maturities from three months to ten years. In June 2006, the Form S-1 registration became effective. In March 2007, we filed Post-Effective Amendment Number 2 to the public offering that was declared effective March 30, 2007. In November 2007, we filed Post-Effective Amendment Number 3 to the public offering that was declared effective November 29, 2007. In March 2008, we filed Post-Effective amendment Number 4 to the public offering that was declared effective March 27, 2008. We have in the past and continue to intend to use the net proceeds from the offering to pay down our credit facility, expand our leasing portfolio, to make acquisitions, to repurchase common stock and for other general corporate purposes. As of December 27, 2008, $26.6 million of the renewable subordinated notes have been sold.
We utilize discounted lease financing to provide funds for a portion of our leasing activities. Rates for discounted lease financing reflect prevailing market interest rates and the credit standing of the lessees for which the payment stream of the leases are discounted. We believe that discounted lease financing will continue to be available to us at competitive rates of interest through the relationships we have established with financial institutions.
We believe that the combination of our cash on hand, the cash generated from our franchising business, cash generated from discounting sources, our bank line of credit as well as our renewable subordinated unsecured notes, will be adequate to fund our planned operations, including leasing activity, for 2009.
Critical Accounting Policies
The Company prepares the consolidated financial statements of Winmark Corporation and Subsidiaries in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. As such, the Company is required to make certain estimates, judgments and assumptions that we believe are reasonable based on information available. These estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the periods presented. There can be no assurance that actual results will not differ from these estimates. The critical accounting policies that the Company believes are most important to aid in fully understanding and evaluating our reported financial results include the following:
Revenue Recognition Royalty Revenue and Franchise Fees
The Company collects royalties from each retail franchise based on a percentage of retail store gross sales. The Company recognizes royalties as revenue when earned. At the end of each accounting period, estimates of royalty amounts due are made based on applying historical weekly sales information to the number of weeks of unreported franchisee sales. If there are significant changes in the actual performances of franchisees versus the Companys estimates, its royalty revenue would be impacted. During 2008, the Company collected $36,800 more than it estimated at December 29, 2007. As of December 27, 2008, the Companys royalty receivable was $1,288,900.
The Company collects initial franchise fees when franchise agreements are signed and recognizes the initial franchise fees as revenue when the franchise is opened, which is when the Company has performed substantially all initial services required by the franchise agreement. Franchise fees collected from franchisees but not yet recognized as income are recorded as deferred revenue in the liability section of the consolidated balance sheet. As of December 27, 2008, deferred franchise fees were $855,800.
The Company currently uses the Black-Scholes option pricing model to determine the fair value of stock options. The determination of the fair value of the awards on the date of grant using an option-pricing model is affected by stock price as well as assumptions regarding a number of complex and subjective variables. These variables include implied volatility over the term of the awards, actual and projected employee stock option exercise behaviors, risk-free interest rate and expected dividends.
The Company evaluates the assumptions used to value awards on an annual basis. If factors change and the Company employs different assumptions for estimating stock-based compensation expense in future periods or if the Company decides to use a different valuation model, the future periods may differ significantly from what it has recorded in the current period and could materially affect operating income, net income and earnings per share.
Impairment of Long-term Investments
The Company evaluates its long-term investments for impairment on an annual basis or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount may not be recoverable. The impairment, if any, is measured by the difference between the assets carrying amount and their fair value, based on the best information available, including market prices, discounted cash flow analysis or other financial metrics that management utilizes to help determine fair value. Judgments made by management related to the fair value of its long-term investments are affected by factors such as the ongoing financial performance of the investees, additional capital raised by the investees as well as general changes in the economy.
Leasing Income Recognition
Leasing income is recognized under the effective interest method. The effective interest method of income recognition applies a constant rate of interest equal to the internal rate of return on the lease. Generally, when a lease is 90 days or more delinquent, the lease is classified as being on non-accrual and the Company stops recognizing leasing income on that date.
Allowance for Credit Losses
The Company maintains an allowance for credit losses at an amount that it believes to be sufficient to absorb losses inherent in its existing lease portfolio as of the reporting dates. A provision is charged against earnings to maintain the allowance for credit losses at the appropriate level. If the actual results are different from the Companys estimates, results could be different. The Companys policy is to charge-off against the allowance the estimated unrecoverable portion of accounts once they reach 121 days delinquent.
New Accounting Pronouncements
Effective December 30, 2007, the Company adopted Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement No. 157, Fair Value Measurements. Statement No. 157 defines fair value, establishes a framework for measuring fair value in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and expands disclosures about fair value measurements. The adoption of Statement No. 157 did not have a material impact on the Companys financial condition or results of operations.
Statement No. 157 defines fair value as the price that would be received for an asset or paid to transfer a liability (an exit price) in the principal or most advantageous market for the asset or liability in an orderly transaction between market participants on the measurement date. Statement No. 157 also describes three levels of inputs that may be used to measure fair value:
· Level 1 quoted prices in active markets for identical assets and liabilities.
· Level 2 observable inputs other than quoted prices in active markets for identical assets and liabilities.
· Level 3 unobservable inputs in which there is little or no market data available, which require the reporting entity to develop its own assumptions.
The Companys cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities are valued using quoted prices. The fair values of the Companys long-term investments (described in Note 3) were determined based on Level 3 inputs using a discounted cash flow model.
In February 2008, the FASB issued FSP FAS 157-2, Effective Date of FASB Statement No. 157 (FSP FAS 157-2). FSP FAS 157-2 delays the effective date of Statement No. 157 for non-financial assets and non-financial liabilities, except those that are recognized or disclosed at fair value in the financial statements on a recurring basis (at least annually). The Company will adopt Statement No. 157 for non-financial assets and non-financial liabilities on December 28, 2008, and does not anticipate this adoption will have a material impact on the financial statements.
In February 2007, FASB issued Statement No. 159, The Fair Value Option for Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities Including an Amendment of FASB Statement No. 115. Statement No. 159 permits entities to choose to measure many financial instruments and certain other items at fair value. The Company adopted Statement No. 159 on December 30, 2007. The Company did not elect the fair value of accounting option for any of its eligible assets; therefore, the adoption of Statement No. 159 had no impact on the financial statements.
Forward Looking Statements
The statements contained in the letter from the CEO, Item 1 Business, Item 1A Risk Factors, in this Item 7 Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, and in Item 8 Financial Statements and Supplemental Data that are not strictly historical fact, including without limitation, the Companys statements relating to growth opportunities, prospects for Wirth Business Credit and Winmark Capital Corporation, contribution of the leasing business to financial results, anticipated operations of the leasing businesses, its ability to open new franchises, its ability to manage costs in the future, the number of franchises it believes will open, its future cash requirements, allowance for credit losses, possible losses related to its investments and its belief that it will have adequate capital and reserves to meet its current and contingent obligations and operating needs, as well as its disclosure regarding market rate risk, are forward looking statements made under the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Such statements are based on managements current expectations as of the date of this report but involve risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by such forward looking statements. Investors are cautioned to consider these forward looking statements in light of important factors which may result in material variations between results contemplated by such forward looking statements and actual results and conditions including, but not limited to, the risk factors discussed in Section 1A of this report. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they were made. The Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update publicly any forward-looking statement for any reason.
The Company incurs financial markets risk in the form of interest rate risk. Risk can be quantified by measuring the financial impact of a near-term adverse increase in short-term interest rates. The Company currently has available a $55.0 million line of credit with Bank of America, N.A. and The PrivateBank and Trust Company. The interest rates applicable to this agreement are based on either the banks base rate or LIBOR for short-term borrowings (less than six months) or the banks index rate for borrowings one year or greater. The Company had $13.6 million of debt outstanding at December 27, 2008 under this line of credit of which $0.5 million was in the form of short-term borrowings subject to daily changes in the banks base rate or LIBOR. The Companys earnings would be affected by changes in these short-term interest rates. With the Companys current short-term borrowings, a one percent increase in short-term rates would reduce annual pretax earnings by $5,000. The Company had no interest rate derivatives in place at December 27, 2008.
Approximately $3,600 of the Companys cash and cash equivalents at December 27, 2008 was invested in money market mutual funds, which are subject to the effects of market fluctuations in interest rates.
Although the Company conducts business in foreign countries, international operations are not material to its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows. Additionally, foreign currency transaction gains and losses were not material to the Companys results of operations for the year ended December 27, 2008. Accordingly, the Company is not currently subject to material foreign currency exchange rate risks from the effects that exchange rate movements of foreign currencies would have on its future costs or on future cash flows it would receive from its foreign activity. To date, the Company has not entered into any foreign currency forward exchange contracts or other derivative financial instruments to hedge the effects of adverse fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates.
Winmark Corporation and Subsidiaries
Index to Consolidated Financial Statements
WINMARK CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
WINMARK CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
WINMARK CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
Fiscal years ended December 29, 2007 and December 27, 2008