The US quick-service restaurant (QSR) market is becoming heavily saturated as fast-food chains continue to expand across the country. As such, QSR companies are now exploring international markets for growth opportunities – with many coming (and returning) to the UK.
Let’s take a look at some international QSR chains that have successfully expanded into the UK, and those that are looking to expand in the near future…
American international fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s first appeared in the UK in 1980 and operated until 2001. After much anticipation, the QSR finally returned to the UK in June 2021 in Reading, and has since opened stores in Kent, Camden, Stratford, Croydon, Romford, and Oxford. Its relaunch proved so successful that bosses plan to open a further 50 sites by the end of 2022. Wendy’s also seeks to expand across Europe and Australia.
Louisiana fried chicken chain Popeyes opened its first store in the UK in November 2021 in Westfield Stratford City – and it was a huge success. To continue its expansion, the restaurant chain has signed a lease to open a 6,000-square-foot headquarters in London. The QSR will launch its first UK drive-thru locations ‘in due course’, and plans to open 350 stores across the country by 2031.
Mexican-inspired restaurant chain Taco Bell first crossed the pond in the ‘80s and operated until the ‘90s. It wasn’t until 2010 that Taco Bell re-entered the UK market. The first new restaurant opened at the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, with a second appearing in Basildon just five months later. Since then, Taco Bell has opened over 100 stores across the UK, and will no doubt continue to expand as time goes on.
American multinational chain of aviation-themed restaurants Wingstop entered a ‘100-restaurant agreement’ with Lemon Pepper Holding in 2017 – and has since opened over 20 UK stores. It’s also secured a multimillion-pound debt facility to support further expansion plans – but not just in the UK. The franchise is now spreading its wings even further afield, starting with Spain.
Canadian multinational fast-food restaurant chain Tim Hortons launched its first UK site in Glasgow in 2017. The QSR chain now operates in over 60 locations – with new sites and drive-thrus popping up almost every month. Following its success, Tim Hortons plans to double its estate across the country by the end of 2023 – and we can’t wait to see where they end up next.
US fast-food restaurant chain Carl’s Jr. has big plans to launch into the UK market for the first time. The QSR currently has over 1,000 restaurants across the US, and serves in 28 countries worldwide, including Spain, France, Denmark, Turkey, and Russia. It’s now looking to target Germany and the UK.
“The model across Europe is that we work on master franchising and we see the UK as a huge opportunity to work with an ambitious partner,” said Tim Lowther, General Manager of CKE restaurants across Europe and Russia.
Looking to expand?
Whether you’re an international QSR seeking growth opportunities in the UK, or a UK QSR wanting to expand, we have the solution for you. Silven QSR is a dedicated service designed to help companies like yours source, hire and retain talent, so you can innovate and remain competitive.