Fast food chains plan their return to the UK to capitalize on post-pandemic glut of space

One in five casual dining restaurants closed during the pandemic, opening up space for fast food chains

National Weekend Edition /
Jun.June 12, 2021 02:00 PM
Wendy's
Wendy’s

Fast food restaurants are returning in droves to the United Kingdom amid a glut of retail and dining spaces.

Wendy’s opened its first British location in Reading last week since leaving the country in 2001 over high operating costs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The American chain plans to open a location in East London and Oxford later this year and plans to open hundreds more over the next few years, a spokesperson said.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen plans to open 350 restaurants in the U.K. over the next few years, starting with a location in London this year.

The chains are capitalizing on the massive supply of available restaurant space. One in five city center casual dining restaurants —restaurants with table service — closed during the pandemic.

“The failure of casual dining means there is an availability of sites, and some very good value opportunities,’’ said Think Hospitality’s Jeremy Hacon.

Fast food restaurants fared much better during the pandemic, thanks largely to the fact that they could remain open for takeout and delivery.

Their market share jumped from 13 percent of U.K. restaurant revenue before the pandemic to 23 percent during the pandemic.

The economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic is also driving demand from landlords for safe established chains.

Vacancies are also high for retail and office space in the country’s urban centers.

[WSJ] —Dennis Lynch





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