Wendy’s on track to open first UK restaurant in 20 years

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US fast food chain Wendy’s remains on track to open its first UK restaurant since pulling out of the market 20 years ago.

The American brand submitted a planning application for a site in Reading earlier this year. Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor said in the company’s 2020 third-quarter earnings call that its UK expansion plans were still moving forwards despite the pandemic. He said: “We continue to make progress towards our plan to expand into Europe and remain on track to open restaurants in the UK in the first half of 2021. We have been building a top talent team on the ground and are engaging with potential franchise candidates to build out the market with us.”

Penegor added that the UK restaurants would be “set up quite nicely for delivery'”. He said: “We’ll have a good mix of locations, both traditional free-standing drive-throughs as well as in-line [restaurants that are] technology enabled. Construction is exempt [from current lockdown rules] so we’ll have the opportunity to continue to build for the future.”

Wendy’s reported its highest global same-restaurant sales growth in more than 15 years during the last quarter, which it said was based on its expanding digital business and breakfast sales.

The chain ran around 10 company-operated UK restaurants in the 1990s, but pulled out in 2000, blaming high property and operating costs.

Wendy’s was founded in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio and today operates more than 6,800 restaurants worldwide.

Its signature dish is a square hamburger patty in a round bun, and the brand launched its first breakfast range earlier this year.

Reading has a history as a testing ground for US fast food brands. In 2019 fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A opened at the Oracle shopping centre but closed in March following protests over the company’s reported historic donations to anti-LGBT organisations.

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