Dublin / OH. (twc) The Wendy´s Company announced plans to sell 54 restaurants, including one in development, in the Salt Lake City market to a subsidiary of NPC International Inc., the eighth-largest restaurant operator in the U.S. with more than 1’200 restaurants. The operator currently has a total of 37 Wendy´s restaurants in two states. Wendy´s announced plans in July to geographically concentrate its restaurant ownership through the sale of about 425 Company-operated restaurants in 13 U.S. markets, primarily in the West. Restaurants are being sold to qualified operators on a market-by-market basis, with the completion of this process targeted by second quarter 2014. Included in these agreements are specific plans to re-image certain restaurants in Wendy´s contemporary Image Activation restaurant design. They also include development plans for new restaurants. As a result of system optimization, Wendy´s President and Chief Executive Officer Emil Brolick said the Company expects to generate a higher operating margin and stronger free cash flow, along with further enhancing the quality of its earnings with a more predictable revenue stream from a higher percentage of royalty and rental income. «We are very pleased with the strong interest in system optimization that we are receiving from our franchisee community», Brolick said. «We view this as an excellent opportunity to grow our business with new and existing franchisees that are focused on operational excellence, have a strong balance sheet and are fully committed to our restaurant re-imaging effort». As part of its system optimization initiative, the Company has now sold or has signed agreements for 172 total restaurants this year.