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Stanley Ma, the head of MTY Food Group Inc. at his office in Montreal.John Morstad/The Globe and Mail

Quebec food-court king Stanley Ma is venturing into the casual dining segment for the first time with the acquisition of a cluster of Madisons New York Grill & Bar restaurants in Canada.

A subsidiary of Mr. Ma's company, MTY Food Group Inc., has struck a binding agreement to acquire 14 franchised Madisons outlets for $13-million.

"We are pleased to make our entry in the casual dining segment through a brand as reputable as Madisons," Mr. Ma said in a news release Thursday.

"This opens the door to a segment of the food service that has been very strong in the last few years and that is expected to continue its strong performance in the future."

The acquisition is to be made through a new subsidiary, of which 90 per cent will be owned by MTY, with the remaining 10 per cent owned by the new vice-president of the brand, Gilles Pépin.

The Madisons network generated sales of $40-million in 2013.

Montreal-based MTY has seen its stock price soar to the current $30 range from $6 at the end of 2008 as it grew by a series of acquisitions.

Brands include Thai Express, Mr. Sub, Jugo Juice and Country Style.

Last year, MTY made its first foray into the highly competitive U.S. market with the $45-million takeover of Extreme Brands, the owner of Extreme Pita and Mucho Burrito outlets.

That deal included about 40 locations in the U.S. in addition to 260 in Canada.

MTY also has a presence in the Middle East.

The MTY chain was launched 30 years ago with Tiki-Ming Chinese foods.

In 2009, MTY acquired the 490-outlet Country Style coffee-break chain for $16.5-million.

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