Papa Murphy's International (PMI) announced that its Company Stores Division Papa Murphy's Company Stores Inc. has acquired 20 Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza stores.

The transaction was completed on Dec. 19 between PMI and McKinleyville, Calif.-based L&K Hodge LLC and its assorted partnerships. The acquired stores are located in the Minneapolis, Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo., markets and increase the company-owned store count to 52.

Papa Murphy's Chairman and CEO John Barr said the move will strengthen the pizza chain's penetration in the three markets.

"The acquisition complements our current base of stores and fits with our strategy to broaden the Company Stores Division where we have the highest consumer awareness," he said. "The addition will also amplify our ability to test new products as well as train franchise owners entering the system."

Larry Hodge, president of L&K Hodge, along with his wife Kathy, are two of Papa Murphy's first franchise owners among the 500-plus today. After 23 years with the brand, the Hodges are taking steps to reduce their company's footprint and tighten operations.

"It's simply time to narrow our focus as we set up our sons to take on more responsibility. We've been fortunate to experience firsthand the growth and success of this company and we're all excited for this next phase," Hodge said.

L&K Hodge will continue to operate 40 stores across 12 markets.

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