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Sat 12th Oct 2019 - Exclusive – Wendy’s to use UK as beach head for European expansion
Exclusive – Wendy’s to use UK as beach head for European expansion: Wendy’s, the third-largest fast food chain in the US, is planning a return to the UK with an opening in the next 12 to 18 months. Speaking at an investor day for the brand, which operates more than 6,000 sites worldwide, chief executive Todd Penegor said the business would kick-start a broader expansion plan across Europe with the launch of some company-owned sites in the UK. The company said it had carried out extensive research on the UK market, questioning more than 3,000 British consumers about what they thought of the Wendy’s brand. Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s head of US development and international president, told investors the company saw Europe as an “exciting new frontier” for the brand, with the UK its “beach head for European expansion”. She said: “We believe the UK has a growing QSR hamburger segment and has great growth ahead of it. We see a clear opportunity for a challenger brand in the UK, with a clear consumer need we can only fulfil. We have already secured development partners and marketing partnerships that are excited and ready to go.” It is thought the company will follow a hybrid strategy for its UK expansion, with a mixture of company-owned restaurants and multiple franchisees. The second phase of the brand’s expansion will see it launch in “priority anchor markets in Europe”. It is currently in active discussions with potential partners for this phase. The group made attempts to break into the UK market before the end of the last millennium but surrendered ten leases in 2000. At the start of 2018, the brand hosted a one-day pop-up at the Sway Bar in London’s Queen Street. The pop-up, which offered a limited menu including a meal deal of its Dave’s Single Burger, a frosty and a drink for £4, was believed at the time to be a precursor to the business making another UK push. Propel understands representatives from Wendy’s were in the UK recently sounding out property agents regarding a relaunch in the country. Between 2020 and 2024, Wendy’s plans to grow its global restaurant store count by 3% annually. By 2024, Wendy’s wants more than 1,500 international stores and to double sales to $2bn. It currently has circa 950 international sites. On Thursday (10 October), Chick-fil-A, the largest chicken and third-largest US fast food restaurant chain, opened its debut UK site, in Reading. The company, which operates more than 2,300 restaurants across 47 states, opened at the former Miami Burger site in The Oracle shopping scheme. The site will open from Monday to Saturday between 11am and 9pm but, as in the US, will close on Sundays because of the Chick-fil-A founder’s Christian faith. A Chick-fil-A spokesman said: “We were pleased to serve several hundred customers on our first day. As for expansion, right now we are focused on this location in Reading, which will help us understand more about consumer interest in our brand and signature menu items such as our Original Chicken Sandwich.”
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