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Auntie Anne’s targets nontraditional locations for growth

Lancaster-based Auntie Anne’s Inc., the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel chain, is now pursuing other avenues for brand growth, including military base locations.

An Auntie Anne‘s recently opened in Texas at Fort Bliss, and the franchisor said it plans to develop further venues outside of the traditional shopping mall setting.

Last year, the company opened 17 locations in “nontraditional” venues. Another 46 are in development, said Shannon Zimmerman, a company spokeswoman.

In 2011, Auntie Anne’s topped the food franchises list released by Franchise Business Review, a New Hampshire-based market research company.

The company has more than 1,200 stores in 46 states and 23 countries. Last year, it opened 51 U.S. locations and plans for another 94 this year, Zimmerman said.

Auntie Anne’s is part of Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group’s Focus Brands portfolio. The company was acquired in November 2010. The pretzel maker became the sixth franchise in the portfolio, which includes Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s.

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