Chick-fil-A, the beloved American fast-food chain known for its chicken sandwiches, is set to make a return to the United Kingdom in early 2025. The company plans to open the first of five restaurants within a two-year timeframe, marking its official expansion across the pond. This announcement was made recently, indicating a bold step for the restaurant chain.
Chick-fil-A had previously attempted a presence in the U.K. in 2019 with a pilot location in Reading, which has since closed. The initial venture was marred by protests from LGBTQ activists, which led to a mall deciding not to renew the restaurant’s temporary lease. During this period, the company faced criticism over past donations to organizations some perceived as opposing same-sex marriage and comments made by its CEO.
The upcoming restaurants in the U.K. will be significant for Chick-fil-A as they represent the “first permanent store outside of North America” for the company, founded in 1967 and known for its practice of closing every Sunday. Currently, Chick-fil-A has a substantial presence in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, with over 2,800 locations.
These new U.K. locations will be owned and operated by local franchisees, a hallmark of Chick-fil-A’s business model. The company also expressed intentions for further expansion in the country beyond these initial openings, indicating a commitment to becoming a part of the U.K.’s fast-food landscape.
Chick-fil-A’s Chief International Officer, Anita Costello, expressed excitement about the move, highlighting the creation of new jobs and opportunities for local communities. The company projects that each restaurant will generate between 80 and 120 jobs.
In a recent press release, Chick-fil-A noted that over 190,000 people work either directly for the company or in its restaurants. As part of its expansion strategy, Chick-fil-A has committed to investing $100 million in the U.K. over the next decade.
Looking beyond the U.K., Chick-fil-A has ambitious plans for global expansion, aiming to enter at least five international markets before the start of the next decade. The company has expressed interest in establishing a presence in other European countries and in Asia within the coming years.
In addition to its global expansion efforts, Chick-fil-A is keeping things fresh by introducing new menu items, including a honey pepper pimento chicken sandwich option as part of a seasonal menu in the United States. This innovation demonstrates the company’s commitment to offering unique and flavorful options to its customers.
As Chick-fil-A embarks on its U.K. venture, it remains to be seen how the brand will be received and whether it can overcome past controversies to find success in a new market.
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