LANCASTER, Pa. - Dec. 30, 2013 // GLOBE NEWSWIRE // - Rounding out a successful year of growth, Auntie Anne's(R) Pretzels, the more than 1,450-unit franchise made famous by its fresh, hand-rolled snacks, recently reached a company milestone with the opening of its 400th international location. The newest Thailand store comes shortly after the iconic brand's official entrance into Brunei and Turkey and precedes aggressive overseas expansion plans for 2014.
The 400th international unit opened in mid-November in Central Festival Chang Mai in Thailand, a country that continues to be a significant driver for Auntie Anne's growth abroad with a total of 114 existing locations. Just weeks earlier in Turkey and Brunei, the pretzel franchise received an overwhelming and enthusiastic response from consumers on opening day as a new brand in each market. With recently-signed agreements in Israel, Indonesia and Guatemala, Auntie Anne's will have entered five new countries this year, surpassing its 2013 goals.
Franchise partner Ismet Ozbakir with SEAS Group owns and operates the Turkey territory and plans to open 14 locations by the end of 2018, in addition to the inaugural location situated in Istanbul's Maltepe Park Mall. Delicious Jo Food, franchise partner for the Brunei territory, opened the country's first Auntie Anne's shop in Freshco Mall in Abdul Razak Plaza in Batu Satu, Brunei. Launched with the core menu, plus Almond Choco Balls and the Chocolate Chip Pretzel, the Brunei store already has a throng of loyal customers. Sales exceeded expectations by more than 300 percent compared to projections and continue to trend positively, a welcomed response as the franchisor plans to open another five units in Brunei.
"The response in Brunei has been unbelievable and overwhelming. Customers start lining up at least 30 minutes before the store opens," said Mike Shattuck, president of FOCUS Brands International. "Most are familiar with the Auntie Anne's brand and have tried it in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand. We're looking forward to strengthening our presence in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East by leveraging our tremendous franchise partners and universally-appealing, freshly-baked pretzels."
Earlier this year, Auntie Anne's also entered India and the Bahamas and brought six locations to Vietnam. Looking ahead to 2014, the brand has set its sights on further international development around the world including Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China.
Auntie Anne's Pretzels, which turned 25 in February 2013, earned its 24th year of positive overall sales growth in 2012.
An award-winning franchise system that is owned by FOCUS Brands Inc., Auntie Anne's(R) Pretzels received the 2012 ZAGAT(R) top five most popular quick-refreshment chains honor, ranked number one in the category of hand-rolled soft pretzels by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500, and was granted the World-Class Franchise(R) honor (the most prestigious award in franchising) for the past seven years. For more information about the Auntie Anne's franchise opportunity, visit www.auntieannes.com, www.facebook.com/auntieannespretzels, www.twitter.com/auntieannes or www.youtube.com/auntieannespretzels.
Director of Communications
Fishman Public Relations
At its more than 1,600 locations around the world, Auntie Anne's mixes, twists and bakes pretzels from scratch all day long in full view of guests.