Iconic US fried chicken brand Popeyes has been trading for almost 50 years but has always resisted the temptation to enter the UK market. But that is all set to change in 2021, with the chain confirming plans to open its debut site and embark on a long term roll-out programme.
The first UK restaurant – in an as yet unnamed location – is set to open before the end of the year, marking the start of an ambitious strategy to launch 350 new restaurants in the UK over the next decade.
Popeyes was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1972 and currently operates 3,400 restaurants in 29 countries.
In recent years the company has stepped up its activities in Europe, with roll-outs in Spain and Switzerland taking place over the last two years. It now runs 350 restaurants in 11 European markets.
Popeyes will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International, Ring International Holdings and hospitality industry veteran, Elias Diaz Sese.
Popeyes said it will bring its proprietary cooking techniques and authentic Louisiana flavours to the UK market and create a series of new jobs spanning critical operational roles in construction, supply chain and distribution.
David Shear, president international of RBI, said: “Popeyes has established itself as an international brand, famed for the creation of authentic, Louisiana-inspired fried chicken products. Our UK launch will build on other successful international expansions in Spain, Switzerland, China, the Philippines and most recently in Sri Lanka.
“We are confident that our UK guests will love their fried chicken from Popeyes and we look forward to offering an alternative product in a major international market that we believe is ripe for disruption.”
Elias Diaz Sese, the co-founder of Popeyes UK, will bring considerable expertise to the business and spearhead its expansion.
He is also a shareholder and a director of Domino’s Pizza UK and Ireland, and until October 2019, was president for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia at the Kraft Heinz Company.
Mr Sese spent more than 15 years at Restaurant Brands International across a number of senior positions around the world, including CEO of Tim Hortons based in Toronto, president of Burger King Asia Pacific based in Singapore, senior vice president of Burger King EMEA based in Switzerland, and managing director of Burger King Southern Europe based in Spain.