Sandwich chain Baguette Express is set to expand rapidly next year after awarding master franchises in Greater London and Greater Manchester, and signing 20 franchisees in locations including Cardiff, Birmingham and Blackpool.The firm currently operates 57 stores in Scotland and England, but hopes to double this number in the next year, as its new master franchisees in Manchester and London, appointed in September and October respectively, begin to open new stores. The company’s third master franchisee in the north east, who was appointed last July, has already opened three outlets in Newcastle, while negotiations are under way to award a fourth master franchise in another region of England.Baguette Express is also recruiting franchisees directly, with deposits taken for 20 locations, including two sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, Preston and Blackpool. These are expected to open within the next six months.”With the master franchises in place, we are confident we will see rapid growth in those areas next year. Our first store in Greater London in Harlow is already up and running and we will open a second in Camden in January,” said business development manager Jim Stewart. “Hopefully by the end of next year we will have 120-130 outlets.”Based in East Lothian, Baguette Express plans to rival Subway and Greggs on UK high streets by building an empire of more than 300 franchised stores over the next five years via a network of 11 regional master franchisees. Turnover stands at around £15m. The stores, which sell baguettes, rolls, paninis, wraps, sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes, are supplied by two large foodservice distributors and are targeted at young professionals, students and office workers.