Bagelman, the Brighton-based café operator, has signed its first franchisees and is preparing to open stores under franchise agreement along the south coast in 2015, M&C Report has learnt.

The group owned by Anthony Prior launched its franchise scheme in the summer and is “about half way along the process” with a franchisee in Southampton looking to open a cluster of stores and an individual franchisee who will open a store in Worthing, West Sussex, in March 2015.

Prior told M&C he believes Southampton could support three Bagelman outlets: “We think Southampton would probably suit the cluster model so probably three stores like Brighton with one in the city centre, the mainline station and probably on the fringes.”

A site for the Worthing store has been identified on the pedestrianised shopping area Montague Street in the town centre, which Prior anticipates to be open ahead of the first Southampton store.

“We are capitalising on our goodwill in Brighton and Hove and as we ripple out from there we hope to expand on that. People are approaching us who have already put thought into opening a Bagelman franchise,” Prior said.

While the group’s focus is currently on growing franchise opportunities, Prior said he would consider opening more company-owned stores in Brighton or beyond if a suitable site becomes available and has “our eye on one or two things”.

“We might look to take on a site and then see a franchisee for that store or keep it as a company-owned store.”