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A customer walks into a Freshii restaurant in Montreal on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Fast-food eatery Freshii shed more light on its aggressive growth strategy Wednesday, saying it's planning to add between 150 and 160 stores this year.

"Freshii is a fast-growing restaurant brand at the forefront of the global health and wellness movement," Matthew Corrin, Freshii's founder and CEO, said Wednesday after the Toronto-based company released its earnings report.

Corrin said Freshii is capturing three global and accelerating market forces by meeting demand for health and wellness products, focusing on millennial consumers and franchise partners, and offering entrepreneurs an affordable franchise.

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"We believe this is what's fuelling our growth," Corrin said in a conference call with analysts.

To stay on top of the health and wellness front, for example, the company rolls out new, limited time offerings about once every couple months to evolve its brand alongside the changing definition of healthy food, Corrin said. It's currently testing its spin on poke, a raw fish salad dish common in Hawaii, he said.

Corrin said about 30 per cent of Freshii's new store openings each year come from existing franchisees expanding to own another location, "which I believe is a tremendous health check for our brand."

He touts the company's franchise build out costs, which are $260,000, as being affordable for entrepreneurs.

Freshii had 278 locations as of Dec. 25, after opening 100 restaurants in its 2016 financial year, including 34 in the fourth quarter.

This year, it plans to add 150 to 160 new stores, with 80 per cent of them in Canada and the United States, and 20 per cent internationally, chief financial officer Craig De Pratto said.

By the end of 2019, the company expects to have 840 locations worldwide.

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The update on the company's growth plans was included in Freshii's first earnings report since it started trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in January after a $125-million initial public offering.

Freshii had US$16.1-million in revenue in its 2016 financial year, up from US$11.1-million the year prior.

The eatery's net income, reported in U.S. dollars, was $1.6-million or six cents per share for the year, including a loss of nearly $500,000 or two cents per share in its fiscal fourth quarter.

Same-store sales – those from locations open at least a year – grew 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter and 6.8 per cent for 2016 on the whole.

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