Following an announcement in early 2021 that it would be launching in the UK, famed fast food chicken brand, Popeyes - that caused a viral sensation in the USA with the launch of its chicken sandwich – has confirmed that it will open its first UK store at Westfield Stratford City this November.
The acclaimed restaurant chain is expected to announce more sites imminently, signalling its fast-growing presence in the market.
The move comes following the appointment of Tom Byng as chief development officer earlier this year, who formerly oversaw real estate divisions for brands including Franco Manca, Itsu and The Real Greek.
Byng has kick-started a rolling programme of acquisitions for Popeyes® UK, which will reflect the brand’s ambitious and accelerated expansion plans in the territory.
Popeyes will be taking a 1,531 sq ft unit in Westfield Stratford City, formerly occupied by KFC, as the shopping centre looks to upgrade its food court offering.
Tom Crowley, CEO of Popeyes UK, commented, “It’s fantastic to be opening our first UK location, following the months of anticipation and buzz that the news of our arrival generated.
“Our vision for our UK launch is ambitious and bold, and we felt a shared sense of purpose with Westfield Stratford City when we were on the hunt for our first restaurant. We are confident that they are the perfect partner to help us kick-start our entry into the UK market.
“All our locations will be carefully chosen, in communities that echo the Louisianan spirit synonymous with Popeyes. We’re looking forward to unveiling our next sites in due course, and revealing more about our expansion into new locations in 2022 and beyond.”
Kate Orwin, leasing director UK, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said, “We’re delighted that Popeyes will be opening its first UK store at Westfield Stratford City. Chicken is beloved across all ages and we’re sure that it will be another destination where families, friends, and groups can enjoy delicious meals.
“Westfield centres continue to attract the best and most exciting brands that our customers want, and Popeyes will be another incredible addition to our diverse food and drink offering at the centre.”
Byng added, “The pandemic has accelerated changing consumer habits, and this has closely informed our UK real estate strategy.
“Experiential retail and customer convenience will be key to the recovery of bricks and mortar post-COVID, which is why we’re making in-store experiences and drive-throughs a central part of our UK rollout. This will be further enhanced by our digital-first offering. Westfield Stratford City is a prominent site with an unrivalled profile, and so provides us with a brilliant platform to begin this journey.”
“Our ambition is to lead with responsible, sustainable practices at the heart of all we do, and leave a legacy of jobs creation in each community that we open up in. This is a major milestone for the brand and we are excited to announce further acquisitions in the run-up to our November opening.”
Popeyes believes that the best food takes time. The chicken is locally sourced and freshly prepared: marinated for at least 12 hours in bold Louisiana seasonings, hand battered and breaded, then slow cooked to perfection using a proprietary frying process. The brand is committed to replicating its successful international formula for British guests.
Popeyes’ launch into the UK market is expected to lead to major investment in market-leading talent and digital innovation. The company will create hundreds of new jobs, spanning critical operational roles in construction, supply chain and distribution as well as provide a direct boost to the UK hospitality sector by hiring talent to prepare and serve Popeyes’ world-famous products.
The first Popeyes restaurant in the UK will open in November 2021 and will represent the brand’s 11th country in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which already has more than 350 Popeyes restaurants in this region.
Founded in New Orleans in Louisiana in 1972, Popeyes is a global player in the fried chicken market and currently boasts 3,400 restaurants over 25 countries.