DENVER – During 2011, Smashburger opened 51 new units, which includes expansion into 12 new markets. Ending the year with 143 locations in the US, this represented 55 percent new unit growth in 2011. Smashburger added 11 new franchise agreements that will bring its pipeline of committed franchise stores to more than 450 units scheduled to open during the next several years.

“We are very pleased with our growth over the past year, particularly during a challenging consumer environment," said Dave Prokupek, chairman and chief executive officer. “We are eager to take advantage of the growing global appetite for our offerings.”

For 2012, Smashburger’s growth plan is to add 50 to 70 new restaurants in new and existing markets, including 15 to 20 new corporate stores, Prokupek said. The company is also seeking qualified franchise partners to help grow its existing corporate presence in Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, as well as enter new US markets like San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC and additional international territories, including operations in Western Europe, South America and Asia.

The company’s first international expansion initiatives were recently announced. This year, Smashburger plans to open units in the Middle East, Canada and Latin America, jump-starting the company’s strategic global expansion into fast-growing markets.

The company was developed and is owned by Consumer Capital Partners, a private-equity firm.