Franchise owner focus

Andy Litherland, Newcastle

"A trip to the States gave my business partner Craig Gilchrist a taste for Auntie Anne's pretzels. Impressed by the quality of the handmade products and of the brand's success in America, Craig was keen for us to invest and replicate its success.

"We had been looking to operate another business alongside our IT company for some time and because of the unstable economic climate we were keen to invest in a franchise. We liked the safety net of using a tried and tested business model and having access to ongoing training and support. The retail sector interested us because we intended Craig's mother Yvonne Gilchrist, who ran her own fish & chip shop for 14 years, to manage our second business on a day-to-day basis. This would leave us free to focus on building the brand in our territory and manage our IT business.

"We arranged to meet Max Burton, Auntie Anne's UK Master Franchise owner, who came across very well - especially in his enthusiasm for the products and concept. We knew then that Auntie Anne's was the right investment for us. "Auntie Anne's has helped us at every stage, from finding a suitable location for our first outlet, to negotiating the lease, finding shop fitters, and sourcing suppliers, to providing us with training and ongoing support. Craig, Yvonne and I attended a comprehensive one-week training course in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which taught us everything we needed to know to run the business effectively. Once back in the UK, we also spent three days in an existing franchised store in preparation for the launch of our own store in Newcastle's Eldon shopping centre.

"We are excited about the launch of our franchise and are aiming to turnover £200,000 in our first year of trading. If our first outlet is well received by the public, we plan to open more Auntie Anne's outlets in shopping centres throughout Newcastle."