Burger chain Wendy’s set for new UK venture

A US branch of Wendy's

At least 12,000 jobs could be created in the UK with the return of US burger chain Wendy’s, which is planning to open up to 400 outlets over several years.

The chain has attempted to take on McDonald’s and Burger King in the UK twice before, between 1980 and 1986 and between 1992 and 2001.

It originally announced it was reopening in the UK in late 2019 with the first outlet being in Stoke on Trent, but the new statement says the first outlets will open in Reading, Oxford and Stratford, followed by two more by the end of 2021.

Wendy’s most recent venture in the UK ended in 2001, with property costs and other overheads cited as reasons why expansion was unviable.

Chief executive Todd Penegor said “multiple locations were secured” and a “top talent team” had been secured on the ground. Several “potential franchise candidates” were being engaged with to build the UK market, he added. He said he regarded the UK venture as a “beachhead” for expansion across Europe.

A company statement said: “The UK launch will spearhead a European-wide expansion as Wendy’s looks to build on strong growth on the other side of the Atlantic, where the brand last year dethroned Burger King to become the No 2 player in the US hamburger market.”

Each restaurant, the company said, would employ between 30 and 50 staff, none of whom would be employed on zero-hours contracts.

Wendy’s said that even if the UK market did not expand as fast as anticipated, its focus on quality and service would still take market share from rivals. The chain’s marketing emphasises the use of locally sourced products and fresh meat that is not frozen.

The chain was founded in 1969 in Ohio and now has 6,800 outlets. It is listed on Wall Street with a valuation of $5bn (£3.6bn).

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