US-based gourmet doughnut restaurant chain Shipley Do-Nuts has opened five new locations in Q1 2023.

Two of these five locations are new state entries in Maryland and Georgia.

Shipley stated that it began 2023 strong, with the opening of its first Maryland location in Odenton in January, followed by its first Georgia location in Cumming, in March.

It also opened restaurants in Texas, including its 12th corporate-owned store in Houston.

The restaurant chain claims to be on track to open 20 new stores in 2023.

To expand its footprint, Shipley signed a new deal in the first quarter of this year with Utah-based multi-brand franchise operator Meisternuts to expand its presence in Colorado.

The Utah-based firm acquired two current Shipley Do-Nuts locations in Aurora and Fountain and intends to open a further 16 locations in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets.

It is estimating double-unit growth in 2023 compared to 2022.

Shipley Do-Nuts CEO Clifton Rutledge said: “We have hit the ground running in Q1 and remain committed to meeting the growing demand for our delicious do-nuts nationwide.

“As we continue to expand our brand into new markets, we have increased our focus on innovation and technology that has allowed us to grow our digital sales and improve the customer experience.”

The company made strides in the digital space in Q1, with 80% of the restaurants now enlisted with a new online ordering system that was rolled out in 2022.

Its focus on technology is claimed to have led to an increase in digital sales, with customers preferring the convenience and ease of online ordering.

It is also continuing to invest in its loyalty program, which it tested in its corporate-owned locations in 2022.

Shipley added 27 additional locations to the test in Q1 2023, taking the total number of participating restaurants to more than 10% of the system.

Shipley plans to introduce the loyalty programme systemwide later this year.

The restaurant chain is seeking franchisees in all markets, with a focus on bolstering its footprint in Colorado, Oklahoma, Florida and throughout the Southeast.

Houston-based franchise Shipley Do-Nuts was set up in 1936 and franchises more than 330 restaurants to a wide group of operators across 12 US states.