National Restaurant Association Takes Majority Stake in Winsight

CSP parent will remain an independent company, continue to operate National Restaurant Association Show
Photograph by Jonathan Maze

WASHINGTON and CHICAGO — The National Restaurant Association has taken a majority stake in CSP owner Winsight Holdings LLC in a deal that intensifies a 3-year-old partnership between the two organizations and broadens the association's support for the convenience-store, grocery and related industries.

Winsight is a leading market intelligence company that connects the restaurant, foodservice, convenience retailing and grocery industries through its portfolio of research, events and industry news. Winsight will continue to operate as an independent entity, and its senior leadership team will remain in place to run Winsight operations.

That partnership began with Winsight’s 2018 acquisition of the annual National Restaurant Association Show. The media, events and information company will continue to own and operate the annual event, which has not been held in person since 2019.

Winsight will remain an independent company and its leadership team will remain in place. CSP and its sister publications Restaurant Business, Winsight Grocery Business and FoodService Director likewise will remain independent publications.

The private equity firm Pamlico, which has held a stake in Winsight since 2017, has exited its investment. The parties did not disclose the terms of the deal.

“Together, the National Restaurant Association and Winsight will be better positioned to support the dynamic demands of the restaurant, foodservice and allied retail industries as it continues to rebuild,” Tom Bené, president and CEO of the Washington-based National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “The association’s investment in Winsight reinforces its commitment to support and best represent the interests of the entire industry. Winsight’s robust engagement and event platforms along with their industry-leading informational resources contribute enormously to the success of every restaurant.”

Winsight is a media, events and information company that serves every segment of the food and beverage industry, including restaurants, noncommercial foodservice, convenience stores and grocers.

In addition to the show, Winsight operates the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference, the technology-focused FSTEC, the Global Restaurant Leadership Conference, Outlook Leadership and Convenience Retailing University and their related digital communities.  It also owns Technomic, a market intelligence firm that provides insights to the food and beverage industries.

The association deal was designed to give Winsight more financial flexibility. It followed a difficult year in which the pandemic all but eliminated in-person events.

“In the face of an historic challenge, our industry has shown resilience, innovation and teamwork,” Mike Wood, CEO of Chicago-based Winsight, said in a statement. “Restaurants are in the early days of a comeback that promises significant growth for the next five years. Convenience and grocery stores have evolved and redefined what it means to be essential. Thanks to this renewed partnership with the association, Winsight’s market defining thought leadership will be available to fuel a rebirth.”

This isn’t the association’s first foray into the business world—it operated the show for years.

“Winsight’s business units and activities align with the association’s current and future strategic objectives related to providing our industry and members with useful content, best practices and convening opportunities,” Bené told Restaurant Business. “In short, our board of directors recognized the tremendous synergies and opportunities between Winsight and the association.”

Foodservice has been at the forefront of the convenience retailing industry in recent years. Bené noted that the association also provides support to the c-store, grocery, hotel and lodging industries, so Winsight’s presence in those markets could open more doors for both organizations. “This deal will provide additional opportunities for both Winsight and the association to supply best practice training and content to these existing markets,” he said.

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