A NEW snack food franchise has been earmarked for Dublin, paving the way for the creation of hundreds of jobs.
The first branch of Auntie Anne's pretzel bakery will open on Saturday in the Blanchardstown Centre.
The group said that the move will create 10 new jobs, with the potential for hundreds more across the country.
Auntie Anne's, which has over 1,000 stores worldwide and has been building its presence in the UK, is now set to drive its expansion here in Ireland.
Franchisees Kieran Riley and Conor Dardis, of KC Pretzels (Ireland) Ltd received financial support for the new venture from the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Enterprise Board.
And Mr Dardis said that the company is committed to using suppliers and resources from the local area.
"We recognised the opportunity for a new concept in Ireland, creating freshly baked pretzels and snacks, for customers on the go," he said.
The business partners have come from diverse backgrounds to create and run their own business with the support, guidance and training that comes with a global brand.
Kieran Riley previously held the position of Business Development Manager in the capital markets division of a leading financial institution and Conor Dardis was the country manager for a global wine brand.
"Even in these uncertain times, the 'grab-n-go' snacking market in Ireland has remained robust," commented Kieran Riley.
The store, which opens in Unit 146 in The Blanchardstown Centre this Saturday, will operate the brand's extensive menu, offering customers freshly baked sweet and savoury hand-rolled pretzels, and pretzel dogs in a selection of flavours.
As all products are prepared fresh on site, special dietary requirements, such as no salt, no butter and low fat options, can be catered for on request.
Auntie Anne's Pretzels is aiming to open 12 new franchised outlets across the country, with seven outlets open by August 2010.
The new outlets will create at least 100 jobs in Northern Ireland, and up to 70 jobs in the Republic, and franchise managers said that that they are planning to meet with further candidates to open branches.
The retailer has grown into a global brand over the past 21 years and is currently has stores in 19 other countries.