Join a quality brand with a unique product offering

Auntie Anne's first UK franchise owner Mahasti Poursaleki is glad she took the plunge and decided to invest in 2004, with her business now turning over £276,000

It was 'love at first bite' for Mahasti Poursaleki when she tasted her first hand rolled, freshly baked Auntie Anne's pretzel while on a family holiday to America. Impressed with the quality of the brand and its unique soft pretzel products, Mahasti decided to enquire about opening a store in the UK and trade in her role as a full-time housewife to become her own boss.

"At that point both of my children were in full time education," reflects Mahasti. "I wanted to start working again and liked the idea of working for myself. Investing in a franchise was the easiest and safest way I could do this, because I would be working with an established brand name and business model and I would have access to ongoing training.

"Auntie Anne's appealed because it offered a unique product, which I believed would be very successful in the UK - especially as UK consumers are going towards healthy eating and the pretzel is low in fat compared to doughnuts and other 'grab 'n' go' snacks."

Mahasti contacted the UK master franchise owner and her application was successful. In October 2004, Mahasti launched her franchise in the Regent Arcade shopping centre, Cheltenham and became the first UK Auntie Anne's franchise owner. Mahasti continues: "Although I had some experience of the catering industry, I had to attend an intensive training course before I was able to launch my franchise, which prepared me for my role as a franchise owner."

Auntie Anne's has continued to invest in its training programme and now new franchise owners complete a one-week training course at its USA head office in Pennsylvania before they start on-the-job training at an existing store with a Training Manager. Franchise owners also have access to ongoing operational support throughout the duration of their franchise agreement.

"Running your own business is hard work and you have to be very organised - especially if you have to work around any family commitments," explains Mahasti. "However it is very rewarding receiving compliments from satisfied customers! I really enjoy working with people, meeting the customers and knowing I am in a position to sell fresh and tasty products straight from the oven.

"2009 was a tough year because of the recession, however my franchise continued to generate the same £276,000 annual turnover because Auntie Anne's soft pretzels are now a popular snack for shoppers in my territory. My aim is to open another Auntie Anne's store within the next year - at the moment I am just waiting for a unit to become available in another shopping centre."

Reported by Jess Sturman

Fall in love with the product
Auntie Anne's freshly baked sweet and savoury pretzels are made fresh onsite - not reheated - and as such are never more than 30 minutes out of the oven. The pretzels are mixed, twisted, baked and served fresh, making Auntie Anne's a unique offering in today's busy shopping centre, high street, train station or airport environment. Auntie Anne's pretzels are also free of additives and trans-fats making them much healthier than most snacking options.

In the USA it is a much-loved meal item which has propelled Auntie Anne's to 800 stores nationwide. The appeal isn't just for Americans - the company has established itself in 200 sites in 19 other international territories in the last 21 years and is now poised to build on the success of the existing UK network and drive its expansion nationwide.