101st Papa John's store is the first in the Northwest

Papa John's opened its 101st store in Sale, Greater Manchester with help from Coronation Street soap star Tom Hudson. Tom plays Chef Paul Clayton in the soap and joined Sale's kitchen team for the day to entertain staff and customers with his culinary skills away from the set.

The new store is the first of many in the pizza franchise's planned expansion in the region, with its targets set on opening a further 14 outlets across the city within the next 18 months in an attempt to become Manchester's number one food brand. Papa John's aim is to open 300 stores by 2016 across the UK.

Tom was invited to help open the store because of his role as chef in Coronation Street. 'It was great to have Tom in the kitchen for the day and see his culinary skills when it came to making pizzas,' UK Managing Director Ian Saunders recalls. 'Tom may pretend to be a chef in the soap but after seeing him in action I would be happy to offer him a job at Papa John's if it did not work out in Wetherfield.

'The opening of this company-owned store sends out a clear message to potential franchise partners that Papa John's is one for the future, with almost limitless opportunity and potential. Greater Manchester region is one of the biggest business opportunities in the UK for delivery and takeaway food. The region is an untapped area in our estate, so Papa John's is able to provide geographical opportunities to franchisees that no other large franchise that has already reached their regional limit can offer. Papa John's is looking for franchise partners who share the same passion as Papa John's founder, John Schanatter for top quality products.'

In a bid to entice more people to become part of its Northwest network, Papa John's pizza also showcased its largest investment programme at the British Franchise Exhibition at Manchester's GMEX on the same day that its Northwest store opened.

Ian says: '2008 will see Papa John's talking to partners about signing up to develop a full territory and that in turn will see employment opportunities for store managers, dough slappers, telephonists and delivery people across the region. Papa John's has already set up a support centre in preparation for its expansion, to ensure it is as painless as possible.'