LANCASTER, Pa. - Jan. 24, 2013 - // GLOBE NEWSWIRE // - Auntie Anne's, the world's largest hand-rolled soft pretzel chain, turns 25 on Feb. 2, 2013. While the brand's longevity is reason in itself to celebrate, executives with the company are particularly contented with the milestones the system reached in 2012. Last year alone, Auntie Anne's opened 202 new stores, of which 117 were in the U.S., entered six new countries and opened its 300th international location.
Best known for mixing, twisting and baking pretzels to golden brown perfection all day long in full view of its guests, Auntie Anne's 25th birthday comes on the heels of the chain's 1,000th domestic opening. The landmark opening, which occurred in Elizabethtown, Ky. on Dec. 24, 2012, is owned and operated by first-time Auntie Anne's franchise partner and military veteran, Dwayne Mollison. This achievement spotlights the brand's commitment to VetFran, a program designed to offer financial incentives, training, and mentoring to veterans interested in a career path in franchising. As part of Auntie Anne's involvement in the VetFran program, Mollison paid a reduced franchise fee.
Auntie Anne's 1,000th domestic opening concluded a year in which the system earned its 23rd year of positive sales growth. Today, the 1,330-unit chain continues to set its sights on growth in traditional locations such as malls and outlet centers as well as in non-traditional spaces including universities, airports, Walmarts, travel plazas, and military bases. It projects opening 100 new stores in the U.S. throughout 2013.
"Auntie Anne's has not only withstood the test of time for a quarter century, but it has also grown at a steady pace while expanding its appeal to new consumers at home and abroad," said Bill Dunn, president and COO of Auntie Anne's. "The opening of our 1,000th domestic store wrapped up a memorable company year, and it speaks volume to all those who have been involved with our brand over the last 25 years."
Since the company's humble inception in 1988, Auntie Anne's has put a major emphasis on international expansion. Last year was no exception. Auntie Anne's opened more than 80 international units in 2012 and entered six new countries including Jamaica, Jordan, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia and Panama. Furthermore, the Lancaster-based company opened its 100th Thailand-based unit in 2012. Plans call for more than 118 locations to open overseas in 2013. Targeted countries for additional growth include Vietnam, Bahamas, India Aruba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France and Brunei.
"From the food to the culture, Auntie Anne's boasts universal appeal, and that's a primary reason why we've been able to surpass 300 international units," said Mike Shattuck, president of FOCUS Brands International. "We are thrilled by the consumer response we see when Auntie Anne's enters a new country. Building our global brand presence has substantial value for us, and we've cracked the code to achieving sustained success."
An award-winning franchise system that is owned by FOCUS Brands Inc., Auntie Anne's 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.
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Director of Communications
Fishman Public Relations