Cinnabon has opened a bakery-cafe in downtown Tripoli, making it the first U.S. franchise to enter Libya.
Cinnabon, based in Atlanta, is also looking to enter Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, said Mike Shattuck, president of Focus Brands International, parent company of Cinnabon and other brands.
The new 7,500-square-foot Cinnabon store in Libya is located on a busy street in Tripoli's business district; it opened on July 2. It also sells Carvel Ice Cream, another brand owned by Focus.
The company, which has more than 900 locations in 51 countries, plans to open at least 10 Cinnabon locations in Libya in the next four years.
"Ultimately, we think there's an even larger opportunity in the country for us," Shattuck said.
The company started seriously considering expanding into Libya two years ago when U.S. sanctions on the country were easing. Shattuck said the firm received numerous franchise inquiries from Libyans living overseas.
"They were already familiar with the brand and wanted to bring it to Libya," he said.