Popeyes, the fried-chicken chain, said it would open its first UK restaurant by the end of 2021, and that it planned to open hundreds more over the next decade.
The US chain — a major player in the fast-food industry’s chicken sandwich wars — planned to open 350 restaurants across the UK by 2031, it said Tuesday.
David Shear, president international at Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), told Insider that the company hadn’t yet decided where the first restaurant would be, but that the sites would be spread across both suburban and city-center locations.
People would be able to order food for delivery through Popeyes’ own app or through other delivery services, Shear said.
The menu at the chain, founded in New Orleans in 1972, is dominated by fried chicken, which Popeyes marinates for 12 hours, and you can buy it in a sandwich or on its own. It also sells other items such as fried shrimp, red beans and rice, and a flounder sandwich.
When asked whether the UK restaurants or menus would differ from those in the US, Shear simply said that Popeyes would “differentiate ourselves just based on product quality … You get what I believe is the best, juiciest, crispiest fried chicken anywhere in the world.”
The UK is set to be Popeyes’ fourth European market, after launching in Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey. The brand already has more than 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries, and is planning a huge expansion in China, where it opened its first restaurant in May.
It’s also opened restaurants in Brazil, and plans to open hundreds of restaurants in Mexico, too.
In October, RBI said it planned to open a Tim Hortons branch in “every major city and town” in the UK by late 2022.
Other US fast-food and fast-casual chains have opened restaurants in the UK, too. Chipotle only has restaurants in London, and Shake Shack has just stuck to major cities, whereas Taco Bell, Five Guys, and Baskin Robbins have a bigger presence.
Popeyes was credited with starting the chicken sandwich wars in 2019, when its sandwich became an instant success following huge social-media buzz. It sold out just two weeks after launch, and the chain sold 250 million of the sandwiches within its first year of launch, Shear told Insider.
“The chicken was incomparably crispy, juicy, and fresh, and all the elements of the sandwich were well balanced,” Irene Jiang wrote at the time in a review for Insider. “Each bite was bursting with flavor.”
Popeyes will be the last of fast-food conglomerate RBI’s three fast-food chains to launch in the UK market, following both Burger King and Tim Hortons.