Franchise business Auntie Anne’s has revealed expansion plans for the next year that will see it open its first stores in the north west of England.

The Bucks-based soft pretzel specialist is set to open a total of 11 sites in 2018, on top of its current tally of 34 stores across the UK, including Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The £8m-turnover company also plans to launch food-to-go vans in the UK, with finding the right franchisee and determining territories the first step, said marketing manager Victoria Gale.

Gale said that, during 2018, many of older sites will also be refitted to bring them up to date with the new style of Auntie Anne’s.

The chain was seeing good sales after being hit by the downturn in consumer confidence in the UK at the start of 2017, she said.

Gale commented: “As a grab-and-go snack food business, we rely on impulse purchases and therefore are affected by footfall levels in the shopping centres in which we trade. In the first quarter of 2017, we were impacted by the macro influences thought to be caused by Brexit which affected consumer confidence.”

However, after a strong Easter and a good summer Auntie Anne’s saw positive sales year on year for the rest of 2017, she reported. A highlight of 2017 was launching its first airside store in 2017 at Luton airport in April.

The Auntie Anne’s chain was founded in 1988 in Pennsylvania, US, and now has 1,800 shops across the world, run by master-franchisees. The Burton family hold the UK and Ireland franchise.