PJ United, a franchisee of Papa John’s Pizza stores, has purchased 26 stores from Gaunce Management Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

The stores are located in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. With the deal, PJ United increases its stores from 132 to 158.

The buyer is owned by private equity firm the Halifax Group. In November 2007, Washington, D.C.-based Halifax partnered with PJ United and its founder Doug Stephens for a management-led buyout of the company.

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