US burger chain Wendy's plots UK return with 400 new restaurants

·3 min read
WendyÕs hamburger business logo on store front, northern Idaho. (Photo by: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Wendy's founded in 1969, owns over 6,800 chains and has a market valuation of more than $5bn. Photo: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

US fast food chain Wendy's is plotting a return to Britain more than two decades after a failed attempt to enter the market, in a move that will bring thousands of jobs to the UK economy. 

Wendy's, known for its square burgers plans to launch up to 400 outlets nationwide, creating 12,000 jobs in the process, with 30 to 50 employees per restaurant. 

The company which left the UK market 21 years ago after complaints over high costs, plans to open its first store in Reading next month, followed by Stratford and Oxford. 

As part of the launch, its menu will include new items geared towards the UK market, such as more vegetarian options. It will also include its breakfast Baconators, towering triple-stacked beef burgers and Chocolate Frosty desserts. 

Wendy's said it will use Britain as a springboard for further expansion in Europe and will start with company-owned stores and later move to a franchise model.

"The UK launch will spearhead a European-wide expansion as Wendy's looks to build on strong growth on the other side of the Atlantic, where the brand last year dethroned Burger King to become the No 2 player in the US hamburger market," a company statement said. 

Abigail Pringle, Wendy's chief development officer, told media interviews over the weekend that Brexit didn't impact the company's "course, [or] further expansion down the road in Europe."

Wendy's faces tough competition in the casual dining market. 

The fast food chain, which claims to have "dethroned the king" by overtaking Burger King sales in America will also be competing with McDonald's (MCD) which has around 1,300 UK restaurants.

The company delivered a blow to struggling Deliveroo (ROO.L) instead tapping rival Uber Eats for delivery.

Wendy's founded in 1969, owns over 6,800 chains and has a market valuation of more than $5bn (£3.6bn).

Read more: Cult US fast food chain Popeyes to launch in UK

Several US fast food chains have been keen to expand in the UK following Brexit and as the economy emerges from the coronavirus slump. 

In March, Popeyes, the fast food chain behind a chicken sandwich that bewitched the US, announced it will launch in the UK this year. 

Popeyes created a storm in 2019 with the launch of its fried chicken sandwich, part of what became known as the "chicken sandwich wars" with rivals including Chick-fil-A and Wendy's. The new menu item caused an online frenzy and became a meme on Twitter (TWTR), prompting long queues, shortages, and even think pieces from the likes of the New Yorker.

The cult fast food chain plans to open its first restaurant in Britain by the end of 2021, with a goal of opening hundreds of restaurants in the coming years as part of a European expansion plan.

The launch is expected to lead to major investment in talent and digital innovation and will create a new jobs, including "critical operational roles in construction, supply chain and distribution," Popeyes UK said.

Britain will be the brand’s 11th country in Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, which already has more than 350 Popeyes restaurants. Popeye's opened in Spain in 2019 and Switzerland in 2020. 

The company, owned by Restaurant Brands International (QSR) currently owns over 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries.

Watch:Chicken sandwiches are big business

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