Aramark, the contract caterer that owns Avoca Handweavers, has signed a partnership deal with Canadian fresh food franchise Freshii to open outlets in Ireland and Britain.
Under the deal, new Freshii outlets will be opened in Trinity College Dublin and in Arnotts department store in Dublin, with a further 10 outlets at other Aramark locations.
The deal marks a major expansion for the Irish branch of Freshii. The local master franchise is owned by former Aryzta executives Dave O'Donoghue and Cormac Manning, who both worked in Cuisine de France.
The duo opened the first Freshii in former Coca-Cola boss Neville Isdell's CHQ mall in Dublin last year. They operate that outlet themselves. Since then it has struck a partnership agreement with Applegreen, which is using the brand to expand its range of fresh foods at its forecourt retail outlets.
The chain is targeting more than 30 outlets over the next five years. It is envisaged that the partnership with Aramark will create more than 100 jobs. The Arnotts and Trinity openings will be the fifth and sixth Freshiis in the State.
Aramark said it chose Arnotts and Trinity, which has 20,000 students and staff, as “prominent landmarks which will help build awareness of the ]Freshii brand]”.
The healthy eating franchise sells soups, salads, wraps, frozen yoghurts and other similar on-the-go dining products. Health-conscious, casual dining is one of the fastest growing segments of the food service market, with local rival brands such as Chopped expanding rapidly in recent times.
"Freshii is a great addition to our offering and we plan to introduce the brand to our business across Ireland and the UK, as it fits the demand for healthy and fresh food that consumers want today," said Frank Gleeson, Aramark managing director for Northern Europe.
Mr O’Donoghue said he and Mr Manning were “thrilled to be able to fulfil our mission of eliminating the excuse that people cannot eat healthy here, by expanding quickly across the country with Aramark”.
Freshii was founded in Toronto more than a decade ago as Lettuce Eatery by then 23-year-old Matthew Corrin. It has since expanded swiftly as a franchise with close to 300 locations, mostly concentrated in North America.
It has also expanded into Europe, including in Sweden, and it is also targeting growth in Latin America.