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Tue 25th May 2021 - Wingstop makes minority investment in UK franchisee to drive growth
Wingstop makes minority investment in UK franchisee to drive growth: US chicken brand Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, has announced a minority investment in the UK business, which is operated by its UK franchisee, Lemon Pepper Holdings. The company said the investment follows strong performance in the UK and underscores the brand's confidence in the market as a key growth lever for global expansion. “We are thrilled to partner with the Lemon Pepper team as it grows its brand presence in the UK, a market with tremendous long-term potential,” said Wingstop chief financial officer Michael Skipworth. “We believe this strategic use of our capital will strengthen the development pipeline in that market and I am excited to join the Lemon Pepper Holdings board of directors and play a role in helping achieve the potential for the Wingstop brand in the UK.” Wingstop said the UK success has come as the result of significant investments in digital technology, a high off-premise sales mix and capturing a significant chunk of the Generation Z audience. Wingstop entered into a 100-restaurant agreement with Lemon Pepper Holdings in 2017 as the sole franchisee for the UK market. Lemon Pepper Holdings opened Wingstop's first restaurant in the heart of central London and its portfolio now has a mix of high street, shopping mall and ghost kitchen locations. The company was founded by Saul Lewin, Tom Grogan, Herman Sahota and Paddy Bamford. The UK saw its highest sales growth in 2020 and continued to open seven new locations despite successive national lockdowns. The investment follows the opening of a new Wingstop restaurant in Reading last month – the first outside of London and one of several planned new openings this year, which will include Manchester, Kingston-upon-Thames, Birmingham Bullring and Bristol. “Since launching in the UK market in 2017, Wingstop has brought its flavoursome chicken wings to thousands of hungry guests across several high-profile locations,” said Grogan. “We've been delighted by the overwhelming response from guests and look forward to bringing our brand to more regions of the UK in coming years.” Wingstop saw global sales in 2020 increase 28.8% year-on-year to about $2bn. In the first quarter of 2021, it reported like-for-like sales growth of 20.7%. The quarter also saw it drive a record number of restaurant openings (41) across the globe, and Wingstop, which was founded in Dallas in 1994, is expecting to grow its total number of restaurants by at least 11% this year. Wingstop is also continuing to explore expansion opportunities in Europe as well as in key markets around the world including China and Canada, where its first restaurant is planned to open by 2022. Dow Schofield Watts and Baker McKenzie served as advisors to Wingstop in the transaction.


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