Chick-fil-A plots international expansion

By 2026, a $1 billion initiative will bring the contentious fast-food restaurant brand to Europe and Asia, with a goal of establishing a presence in five global markets by 2030.

Chick-fil-A, a fast-food giant based in Atlanta, is making another attempt at expanding internationally. However, this time it’s not a one-time occurrence; the plan is to invest $1 billion in opening stores across Europe and Asia.

CEO Andrew Cathy recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal and mentioned that Chick-fil-A has a lot of room for growth in the U.S. but an international presence is vital as the family-owned business plans for the future.

Cathy said, “We feel like it’s time to continue to innovate and try [to] test how we will do in international markets so that we can learn.”

The company has announced its intention to open restaurants in Europe and Asia by 2026, with the goal of establishing a presence in five global markets by 2030.

Chick-fil-A’s previous endeavor to enter the European market by opening a location in London in 2019 failed due to continuous protests by gay rights activists. Similarly, an earlier attempt to establish the brand in South Africa from 1996 to 2001 also failed because the company was unable to register brand awareness among its customers.

Despite its previous unsuccessful attempts at international expansion, Chick-fil-A has managed to successfully operate eight stores in Canada and three stores in Puerto Rico.

Chick-fil-A is immensely popular in the U.S., with higher average unit volumes (AUVs) compared to most other quick-service restaurants, despite only being open six days a week.

Anita Costello, the Executive Vice President for International at Chick-fil-A, stated that the chain is committed to serving all customers in their international markets and takes concerns raised about the company seriously.

Chick-fil-A executives believe that their global restaurants will perform similarly to their 2,700 locations in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal.

When it comes to choosing locations, CEO Andrew Cathy mentioned that they are searching for countries in Asia and Europe with stable economies, high population density, and a demand for chicken. However, they need to figure out how to replicate their supply chain abroad.

Chick-fil-A is not the only brand looking to expand into Asia, with Papa John’s, TGI Fridays, and Fogo de Chão also announcing their entry into the market. Competitors such as KFC, Popeyes, and McDonald’s already have a presence in the international market, with McDonald’s expanding to nearly 6,000 restaurants in Asia in 2016.

Chick-fil-A’s newest menu innovation may also see success in Europe and Asia.

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