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Popeyes opens its first restaurant in Britain this weekend – with hundreds more to follow

Popeyes in Chelmsford, east of London, opens on Saturday.

Josh Ong/Insider

  • US fast food chain Popeyes opens its first full UK outlet in Chelmsford this weekend.
  • Its UK boss, Tom Crowley, says it plans to open hundreds of UK sites in the coming years.
  • The next places to get a Popeyes in Britain include Romford and Ealing in London, and Reading.

US fast food chain Popeyes is opening its first full outlet in the UK this weekend in Chelmsford, east of London. 

The chain, one of the main players in the US fried chicken sandwich wars two years ago, plans to expand rapidly in Britain, adding to its 3,500 stores around the world. 

Founded in New Orleans 50 years ago, Popeyes is famous for its 12-hour marinated fried chicken. Fans queued for hours late last year when it opened a counter in Westfield’s shopping mall in Stratford, east London, MyLondon reported.

The CEO of Popeyes UK, Tom Crowley, says the fried chicken market remains underdeveloped in the UK despite the plethora of chicken shops. 

spicy chicken sandwich deluxe from popeyesThe Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe is one of Popeyes’ core menu items.

Josh Ong/Insider

Backed by its owner Restaurant Brands International, which also controls Burger King and Tim Hortons in the UK, Crowley told Insider that Popeyes was the “right brand at the right time.” 

The Stratford outlet quickly became the chain’s most profitable financially globally, signalling strong demand for its products from British consumers. 

Popeyes will soon open another eight restaurants in the UK. They will be in Romford, east London; Ealing Broadway in the capital’s west; the Metrocentre mall in Gateshead; and Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, and Reading.

Crowley said finding the right locations was important, adding: “We’re ambitious. We can see the opportunity, but we do take it one restaurant at a time.” 

Popeyes serving counter at Chelmsford locationThe chain offers table service at its restaurants.

Josh Ong/Insider

Crowley said Popeyes regards drive-through outlets as a huge opportunity in the UK market.

Drive-throughs are a crucial part of its business in the US and they will be central to its British expansion along with delivery services, he said. The company aims to have 350 UK restaurants by 2031.

Despite soaring inflation, Crowley said Popeyes aimed to keep prices in check by cutting overheads and not reducing quality. 

Each restaurant will continue to make every menu item, such as its signature “shatter crunch” chicken breading and fresh pickles.

“We’re particularly good at being creative and nimble to find a way. We’ve got through the pandemic. Now, we’ll get through this,” Crowley told Insider.

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