07/10/2013 04:17 EDT | Updated 09/09/2013 05:12 EDT

MTY Group signs agreement to open franchised Sushi Shops in Kuwait

MONTREAL - Quick service restaurant operator MTY Food Group Inc. is continuing to grow its presence in the Middle East, with the opening of its Sushi Shops in Kuwait.

The Montreal-based company said its wholly-owned subsidiary MTY Tiki Ming Enterprises will open the first few locations in the coming months and see what kind of reception they receive before expanding.

In 2006, MTY (TSX:MTY) acquired 42 franchised and five corporate Sushi Shop stores.

"Signing of this new area development agreement demonstrates our goal to continue to develop our brands internationally," chairman and chief executive Stanley Ma said in a statement Wednesday.

Glen Michael of Laurentian Bank Securities said MTY has been recently active with these types of master franchise agreements in the Middle East.

It signed an agreement in January to expand Mr. Sub and Jugo Juice in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A month later it signed a deal to expand La Cremiere in Saudi Arabia.

"The Middle East is definitely a focal point for the company's international expansion strategy, and I would expect MTY to continue seeking such master development type deals in that region for its brands," he wrote in an email.

MTY recently announced it plans to buy the group of companies that operate Extreme Pita, PurBlendz and Mucho Burrito restaurant chains in a $45-million deal that will give it a foothold in the U.S. market.

In April, it inked a deal for the SushiGo chain of fast food restaurants for $1.05 million in cash.

It operates more than 2,220 quick service restaurants, including those under the banners Yogen Fruz, Country Style, Mr. Sub and Au Vieux Duluth Express. Nearly 100 locations are outside of Canada.

MTY isn't the first Canadian food chain to expand in the Middle East. Tim Hortons (TSX:TH) opened its first restaurant in Oman late last year, the 20th location to open in the region since the iconic Canadian chain signed a master licence agreement with the Apparel Group.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, MTY shares closed up eight cents at $28.75 on Wednesday.