Fast food chain Chopped is to open 20 new stores across the country, which will take its Irish store count to 40.

The expansion will see the creation of 320 new jobs - a mix of full- and part-time - in its stores.

Chopped is also taking on 110 staff to support its expansion into the UK market, where it plans to open six new stores. This marks its first move outside of Ireland.

The company said the new outlets will join existing Chopped locations in Dublin, Kildare and Galway. 

It also recently opened new sites in Talbot Street in Dublin city centre and University College Dublin and Newcastle Road in Galway. 

New Chopped outlets will open in counties Wicklow, Cork, Waterford this year while the company will also continue to expand in Dublin.

Brian Lee, co-founder and managing director of Chopped, said that the company last year had set a target of increasing its staff numbers by 100. "We exceeded that expectation by increasing our employees by 140 in 2016," he added.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor said indigenous Irish businesses such as Chopped are important to the national economy as well as making a valuable contribution to local areas through employment and expenditure. 

"Ireland has one of the fastest growing employment rates in Europe and it is home grown companies such as Chopped that are helping to sustain this," the minister added.