Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Freshii Debuts on Toronto Stock Market, Eyes Aggressive Expansion Plan

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Freshii Debuts on Toronto Stock Market, Eyes Aggressive Expansion Plan

Article excerpt

Freshii goes public, eyes big expansion

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TORONTO - Freshii is counting on growing consumer appetite for healthy food to power an ambitious growth plan that would see the restaurant chain more than triple the number of franchised locations within three years.

The Toronto-based eatery, which specializes in customizable salads, wraps, bowls and smoothies, is aiming to have as many as 840 locations worldwide by the end of 2019. It had 244 restaurants throughout North America, South America and Europe as of Sept. 25.

CEO Matthew Corrin said his company is poised to capitalize as more people embrace the trend towards improving health and wellness, which can include everything from lunching on quinoa bowls to wearing ethical yoga gear.

"Look, I can have a burger with the best of them, but there is a time and place for a splurge," said the 35-year-old Tuesday following the company's debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"The reality is that you need to be -- more often than not, more days than not, more meals than not -- you need to be picking better-for-you ingredients, healthier foods to keep you energized and not put you in a food coma. That's how I think about it. I think one of the reasons why people have historically picked unhealthy fast food is that it's the path of least resistance, and it's the most affordable option out there."

The company's initial public offering was priced at $11.50 a share, raising total gross proceeds of $125 million. Shares closed Tuesday at $12.22, up 72 cents or 6.3 per cent.

Corrin, who founded the company and opened its first location in Toronto in 2005, said he believes Freshii's appeal of fast and fresh food is universal, pointing to the more than 4,000 franchise applications it receives each year. Store sizes range from 250 square feet to 2,500 square-foot, stand-alone locations. …

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