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    Chester's U.S. Expansion Plans On Target

    The fried chicken QSR has secured 31 franchises during the past 12 months.

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Chester's International announced substantial progress in its strategic growth plan of rapidly expanding its franchise program throughout the United States. During the past 12 months, Chester's has secured 31 franchises through single-location and multi-unit deals, including a number of milestone agreements that have expanded its market reach.

    The company completed its first franchise locations in Atlanta, Los Angeles and metropolitan New York, as well as strategically important openings in Indianapolis, Ind. Future openings are on tap in Birmingham, Ala., Chester's corporate home.

    Chester's continues to be one of the largest branded foodservice suppliers in the convenience store industry, maintaining 10 locations with its largest franchisee, Loves Travel Centers. Additionally, two franchised locations have been opened through a multi-unit agreement with Circle K in Arizona, according to the company.

    While Chester's traditional franchise growth model includes placing locations in in-store formats, such as within c-stores and through in-line location development, it recently made a strategic deviation by expanding into its first existing free-standing building through conversions. Chester's said it will continue this new approach to growing the brand by offering a quality product and more attractive volumes to operators of locations with previously-failed foodservice offerings.

    "As we look back over the year, we are very pleased with the many firsts the company has achieved," said Russ Cooper, president, Chester's International. "With our first expansions into large metropolitan markets and continued dominance in the c-store sector, we have been able to ramp up our franchise development in 2006."

    Chester's, which is authorized to grant franchises in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, is scheduled to open 15 additional restaurants this year at locations across the country. The company also anticipates a continued accelerated pace of new franchise agreements, including additional growth in major metropolitan areas and expanded or new franchise relationships with multi-unit franchise operators.

    "We are certainly looking forward to a robust fourth quarter as we build on our strong franchise foundation with the coming launch of new menu items and new store concepts, such as conversions," Cooper said. "Conversion of a closed QSR concept is a significant opportunity for individuals seeking a quality branded foodservice concept."

    Chester's currently operates a total of 1,823 locations. Under the company's Project 500 franchise growth model, Chester's plans to add 500 franchises within five years.

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