In 1933, eighteen-year-old Vernon Rudolph, along with his brother Lewis Rudolph, began working for his uncle, Ishmael Armstrong, who owned a small general store in Paducah, Kentucky, that sold a wide variety of goods, including its very popular doughnuts. While the exact origin of the doughnut recipe remains partially a mystery, it is believed that Ishmael Armstrong was inspired by an Ohio River barge cook named Joseph LeBeouf who was famous for his light and fluffy doughnuts.
The store struggled during the Great Depression. In 1934, Vernon and Ishmael decided to move to the larger city of Nashville, Tennessee, where they hoped business would be better. The uncle and nephew focused solely on selling their doughnuts and opened "The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company" in a rented store on Gallatin Road. The shop did so well that Vernon's father, Plumie, also left Kentucky and moved to Nashville to help sell doughnuts. In 1937, Rudolph opened his own store, deciding on Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for the location when he learned that his favorite cigarette company, Camel Cigarettes, was headquartered in the small North Carolina city. Rudolph primarily sold to convenience stores; however, he also sold hot doughnuts to individual customers who came during production time between midnight and 4 a.m. The first store in North Carolina was located in a rented building on South Main Street in Winston-Salem in what is now called historic Old Salem. The Krispy Kreme logo was designed by Benny Dinkins, a local architect. The first Krispy Kreme bakery outside the South opened in Akron, Ohio, in 1939.
Expansion occurred in the 1950s, including an early store in Savannah, Georgia. By the 1960s, Krispy Kreme was known throughout the Southeast, and it began to expand into other areas. In 1976, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation became a wholly owned subsidiary of Beatrice Foods of Chicago, Illinois. The headquarters for Krispy Kreme remained in Winston-Salem.
A group of franchisees purchased the corporation back from Beatrice Foods in 1982.
Krispy Kreme began another phase of rapid expansion in the 1990s, opening stores outside the southeastern United States where most of their stores were located. In December 2001, Krispy Kreme opened its first store outside the US in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
IPO and accounting scandals
On April 5, 2000, the corporation went public on the NASDAQ at $21 using the ticker symbol KREM. On May 17, 2001, Krispy Kreme switched to the New York Stock Exchange, with the ticker symbol KKD, which it carried until its private acquisition. The stock reached what would be its all-time high of $50 on the New York Stock Exchange in August 2003, a gain of 135 percent from its IPO price. For the fiscal year ending in February 2004, the company reported sales of $665.6 million and operating profits of $94.7 million from almost 400 stores . The market initially considered the company as having "solid fundamentals, adding stores at a rapid clip and showing steadily increasing sales and earnings."In May 2004, the company missed quarterly estimates for the first time and suffered its first loss as a public company. Chairman and CEO Scott Livengood attributed the poor results to the low-carbohydrate diet craze. This explanation was viewed with skepticism by analysts, as "blaming the Atkins diet for disappointing earnings carried a whiff of desperation", and as rival donut chain, Dunkin' Donuts, has not suffered from the low-carb trend over the same compared period.By 2005, the company's stock had lost 75-80 percent of its value, amid earnings declines, as well as an SEC investigation over the company's alleged improper accounting practices. A turnaround plan in December 2005 aimed to close unprofitable stores in order to avoid bankruptcy.Analysts suggested that Livengood had expanded the chain too rapidly after the IPO, which concentrated certain markets with too many stores. While this approach initially grew revenues and profits at the parent-company level, due to royalty payments from new franchisees, this reduced the profitability of individual franchisees in the long run as they were forced to compete with one another. For the 2003-04 fiscal year, while the parent enjoyed a 15 percent increase in second-quarter revenues, same-store sales increased only a tenth of a percent. Krispy Kreme also had supermarkets and gas stations carry their donuts, which soon contributed up to half of the chain's sales, creating further market saturation as well as increasing competition to its franchisees. All this expansion devalued Krispy Kreme brand's novelty, by making the once-specialty donuts ubiquitous, particularly as the newer sales outlets required pre-made donuts as opposed to the ones made fresh in factory stores, which alienated brand devotees.Besides royalty payments from new stores, the parent company also enjoyed significant profits by requiring franchisees to purchase mix and doughnut-making equipment from the parent's Krispy Kreme Manufacturing and Distribution division. KKM&D earned $152.7 million in 2003, which made up 31 percent of sales, with a reported operating margin of 20 percent or higher, but these mark-ups were largely at the expense of its franchisees. By comparison, rival chain Dunkin' Donuts generally avoids selling equipment or materials to its franchisees which "keeps company and franchisee interests aligned", as well as having a royalty stream based on same-store sales.Krispy Kreme has been accused of channel stuffing by franchisees, whose stores reportedly "received twice their regular shipments in the final weeks of a quarter so that headquarters could make its numbers". The company was also dogged by questionable transactions and self-dealing accusations over the buybacks of franchisees, including those operated by company insiders. A report released in August 2005 singled out then-CEO Livengood and then-COO John W. Tate to blame for the accounting scandals although it did not find that the executives committed intentional fraud.On March 4, 2009, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against Krispy Kreme for its actions inflating their revenues and engaging in illicit activities regarding the purchasing of its own stores to prop up revenues and setting up mechanisms to guarantee that it beat earnings estimates by $0.01 which eventually resulted in Krispy Kreme reducing net income over two years by over $10.5 million. In it, the SEC proposed remedial actions for Krispy Kreme to take.
Return to private ownership
In May 2016, JAB Holding Company, a German investment firm, announced that it made an offer to purchase the company for $1.35 billion over the following two months that would make the company privately owned. The transaction closed on July 27, 2016. In December 2017, Krispy Kreme moved its corporate operations to Charlotte, North Carolina; while Winston-Salem will retain the World Headquarters and maintain the Krispy Kreme Support Center.Also in 2010, Krispy Kreme Express, a delivery service for businesses, began testing at the Battleground Avenue location in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the early 2010s, the company began developing shops with tunnel ovens, which allow for an all-day "Hot Now" hot doughnut experience. On February 24, 2015, Krispy Kreme opened its 1,000th shop, in Kansas City, Kansas.In 2018, Krispy Kreme acquired bakery chain Insomnia Cookies, which continues to operate independently.On August 25, 2020, the first Krispy Kreme vending machine was launched in North Carolina, featuring 3-packs of donuts available 24 hours a day.
Going public again
In May 2021, Krispy Kreme confidentially filed for an initial public offering to once again go public. The company went public again on the Nasdaq on July 1, 2021, under the name Krispy Kreme Inc.
Mr. Matthew Spanjers (Chief Growth Officer)
Ms. Theresa Zandhuis (Chief People Officer)
Mr. Joey Pruitt (VP & Chief Accounting Officer)
Mr. Thomas E. Kuharcik (Sr. VP of Supply Chain Operations)
Mr. David W. Skena (Chief Brand Officer)
Mr. Robert Ballew (VP of Investor Relations)
Recognition and Awards
Mr. Michael J. Tattersfield (CEO, Pres & Director)
Mr. Joshua Charlesworth (Global Pres, COO & CFO)
Ms. Catherine Tang (Chief Legal Officer & Corp. Sec.)