DALLAS-Brinker International Inc. is moving forward with its aggressive international expansion plans, signing two new franchise agreements to expand the Chili’s brand in the Middle East and to introduce the Romano’s Macaroni Grill brands to various countries in the region.

One of the new agreements marks the first Romano’s Macaroni Grill in the Middle East, said Charles Sonsteby, executive vice president and CFO of Brinker during the company’s earnings conference call. “The next year looks incredibly bright as our development partner looks to open 35 new Brinker-branded restaurants,” he said, adding that Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants are planned for Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Egypt.

The second agreement allows Brinker to expand its Chili’s brand in the United Arab Emirates. The franchisee plans to open 10 new restaurants, according to a Brinker statement.

Sonsteby said that Brinker’s international expansion has accelerated with these recent franchisee agreements. New restaurant development is a key strategy for the company, which either owned, operated, or franchised 1,580 restaurants under the names Chili’s Grill & Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy and On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina at the end of the company’s third quarter fiscal 2006.

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