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CARPINTERIA, CA-The Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain has signed a deal to open 50 franchise locations in the Russian Federation over the next eight years, a move that is part of the chain’s international expansion strategy as well as that of its parent, CKE Restaurants Inc. The Carl’s Jr. agreement is with Bright Star LLC, which expects to open Russia’s first Carl’s Jr. in early 2006.

Carl’s Jr. and CKE’s Hardee’s operate 204 restaurants in 13 countries. Parent CKE has been pushing to expand that international presence, according to Ned Lyerly, CKE Restaurants VP, who says the move into Russia was based on the country’s “growing economic capability and its broad acceptance of western goods and services.”

Bright Star ranks among the leading food companies in Russia and aspires to be the leading fast food company in the country, says Paul Pasco, director of Bright Star LLC. Pasco says that Bright Star execs visited the US last year on a fact-finding mission, meeting with most of the players in the fast foot market and sampling burgers from all the major chains.

The Russian locations will build on a Carl’s Jr. store count that stood at 1,020 at the end of the CKE fiscal quarter ended May 23. CKE Restaurants Inc. also operates 2,029 Hardee’s restaurants and 100 La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill locations in 44 states.

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