The new restaurant will open in the Stratford shopping centre in November – fittingly in a former KFC site - and will be the first of what is anticipated to be significant push in the UK from the company. Popeyes is expected to announce more new restaurant openings soon including drive-thrus, which it says will be a 'central part' of its UK rollout.
“It’s fantastic to be opening our first UK location, following the months of anticipation and buzz the news of our arrival generated,” says Popeyes chief executive Tom Crowley.
“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 it is 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.”
Popeyes was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and operates around 3,500 restaurants globally. The company has previously described the UK as its 'next big opportunity' for growth with plans to open up to 300 restaurants across the country in the coming years.
It says that the pandemic has accelerated changing consumer habits, which has ‘closely informed’ its 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-thrus a central part of our UK rollout," says Tom Byng, chief development officer. "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’ chicken-focused menu features items such as fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and sides such as biscuits, coleslaw, Cajun fries, mashed potatoes with gravy, and red beans with rice.
The brand will be hoping to have greater success in the UK than chicken rival Chick-Fil-A which opened two restaurants in the UK, in Reading and Scotland, before closing both following protests over its history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organisations.