January 12, 2010 / 2:08 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chipotle eyes France, Germany for new restaurants

* Looking for locations in France, Germany, more in London

* Sees thousands more restaurants in United States

* Stands by 2010 view for store openings, comparable sales

CHICAGO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N) has an executive scouting locations in France and Germany and could open thousands more of its restaurants in the United States, executives said on Tuesday.

Chipotle’s first international location in Toronto has surpassed expectations, said the company’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive, Steve Ells, during a presentation at a Cowen and Company conference on Tuesday.

Ells said the company, which has more than 900 locations, plans to add two more restaurants in Toronto. Chipotle previously announced plans to open a London location in April, which will be its first restaurant in Europe. [ID:nN17549853]

Chief Development Officer Rex Jones is now focused full-time on international development, Ells said. Jones has started to look for sites in Germany and France, as well as possible locations for more restaurants in London, Ells said.

Chipotle is also preparing for continued growth in the United States, where it has made changes including a refreshed decor and improvements in the ways it warms tortillas and prepares its chips. The company also introduced new soft corn taco shells in a number of markets, which it will introduce to more locations, Ells said.

“We believe we can build thousands of restaurants domestically,” Co-CEO Monty Moran said.

During the presentation, the company once again said that during 2010 it expects to open 120 to 130 new restaurants, sees flat comparable restaurant sales given the economic climate, and plans to repurchase $100 million worth of its shares.

Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Dave Zimmerman

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