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US chicken chain Popeyes to launch first UK restaurants

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Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2-min read
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US fried chicken chain Popeyes is to launch its first UK restaurant, as it pushes ahead with an ambitious expansion plan to open hundreds of UK sites.

The KFC competitor, which runs 3,400 restaurants globally, said it will welcome customers to the first location by the end of 2021.

It said it has a goal of opening 350 UK restaurants over the next 10 years, after rapid growth in continental Europe in recent years.

The chain rolled out its brand into Spain and Switzerland over the past two years but said it sees the UK as its “next big opportunity” for growth.

Elias Diaz Sese, co-founder of Popeyes UK, said he expects the brand to resonate strongly with customers and believes their expansion plan can create hundreds of new jobs.

Popeyes has 3,400 global restaurants but will open its first UK site later this year (Popeyes/PA)

“The UK is such an exciting market and we think the authenticity of our brand and product is something customers here want to see,” he told the PA news agency.

“We think we will really benefit the communities we move in to.

“It’s difficult to say exactly what the scale will be right now, but we are looking to create hundreds of jobs in the restaurants and in the supply chain.”

Popeyes, which was founded in New Orleans in 1972, will launch in the UK as part of an agreement between Restaurant Brands International, Ring International Holdings and hospitality veteran Mr Sese.

Mr Sese, who is a non-executive director at Dominos Pizza UK, said it is in talks over its first restaurant locations.

He said: “We can’t confirm anything yet but we are most probably looking at opening a flagship site in London.

“There are great locations for opening across the country and we are looking at our options right now.

“We are definitely looking at both busy city centre locations and neighbourhood high streets.”

The announcement comes as restaurants around the UK remain closed to dine-in customers due to lockdown restrictions, with sites able to open outdoors from April 12 at the earliest.

Popeyes said it plans to use a raft of channels including delivery and takeaway when it launches in the UK.

It is the latest in a number of international fast food chains to reveal plans to grow in the UK, coming weeks after Philippines-based chicken chain Jollibee revealed its growth strategy, while US burger chain Wendy’s has also said it is eying a raft of further UK openings.