Baguette Express, the Scottish-owned sandwich chain, expects to open around 50 new stores in and around London over the next three to four years after signing a "master franchise" deal with one of its franchisees.
Robin and Billy Stenhouse, who founded the chain in 1999, have sold the Greater London Master Franchise to Amjid Bashir, who runs a Baguette Express outlet in Glasgow, for a "six-figure sum".
Bashir said there was a "recession-proof element" to Baguette Express's operation, pointing to its "substantial growth" over the past year, while other franchised operators such as O'Brien's and Coffee Republic have struggled. He revealed that his aim was to open 50-plus shops in London over the next three to four years.
"I believe that this is the minimum we can achieve; the rate of new openings depends, however, on the numbers of prospective franchisees who come along and decide to get their own operations up and running," Bashir said.
The first two franchises covered by the deal are due to open shortly: one in Camden High Street and the other in Harlow, Essex.
Robin Stenhouse, joint-founder, described the deal as a "major step forward" for the Haddington-based firm.
"Our outlets provide career opportunities for people across a number of disciplines, from management to catering and logistics, and they also tap into the entrepreneurial spirit by giving people the chance to run their own businesses," he said.
By Daniel Thomas
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