The Counter, the US build-your-own-burger franchise, is planning to open 20-25 UK sites over the next five years, with more possible under sub-franchise agreements, MCA has learnt.

Paul Van Staden, chief executive of The Counter UK, was recruited by property investment company Daniel Johns to identify a franchise with potential for the UK, and has a £25m budget to develop the brand and its sister concept Built.

Van Staden, who has previously run Pizza Hut, Dominos, Hard Rock Café and PizzaExpress franchises, said he would look to develop sub-franchises after 12 months, which could add an additional four or five sites a year.

He told MCA: “The £20m investment will get us between 20-25 sites. Hopefully by this time next year we will commence franchising, which will perhaps increase those numbers by four or five a year.

“We’d like to focus on the major cities, we left London to last because it’s very overheated. A lot of the top brand are trying to exit their very expensive sites.

“We want to feel our way, get the brand established, and sort out the operational kinks.”

The Counter opened its first UK site in Glasgow, which Van Staden said he was “ecstatic” about, following a strong opening few weeks off the back of a social media marketing campaign.

Built, the more quick service, lower price-point brand, is opening in Ilford at the end of July.

The business is currently looking at sites in London as well as Manchester and Birmingham for its next openings, and is happy with destination locations in retail parks over high streets.

Van Staden said the build-your-own element, and premium quality of ingredients, made the concept unique in the UK.

He added: “I’ve always felt if you offer a quality product, people will pay. We are competitively priced, its unique, and there aren’t too many burger operators we you can build your own burger.”