Karen Robinson-Jacobs writes in The Dallas Morning News that Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. has closed nearly half of its Dallas-area stores in the last three months as it looks to turn the market over to a franchisee.

The Krispy Kreme on Central Expressway in Plano shut down this week, the latest of three underperforming local stores to close, said spokesman Brian Little. The Irving store closed in June, he said, and the Frisco store on Preston Road closed earlier this month.

Little said he knew of no plans to close any of the four remaining stores. But he said the local count would grow only if the area is turned over to a franchisee, and he knew of no imminent handoff.

“Our presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is changing as we continue to streamline corporate operations,” said Little, adding that the company is focusing on growth near its base of Winston-Salem, N.C.

Many new Krispy Kreme outlets will be smaller, he said, with the doughnuts made largely off-site and trucked in.

Except for breakfast, doughnut sales have remained relatively flat as consumers trim spending, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Inc., a market research firm.

The closures don’t mean local doughnut lovers will go cold turkey. Dunkin’ Donuts – which announced plans in 2007 to open as many as 150 shops here within 10 years – has about 20 so far.