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Chicken Sandwich Wars Reach The UK High Street

Global sandwich: Friend chicken by Popeyes

The UK is about to become a participant in the U.S. chicken sandwich wars.

Popeyes, the U.S. fried chicken brand, is to cross the pond. It will open 350 restaurants in the UK over the next 10 years.

The arrival of Popeyes comes not long after rival Chick-fil-A abandoned attempts to open a UK network, pulling out of a store at Reading’s Oracle shopping centre following a row about the firm’s donations to causes deemed hostile to LGBT+ interests.

That Popeyes has chosen to move in to fill a chicken sandwich-sized hole in the UK fast-food scene comes as no surprise to aficionados: Popeyes and Chick-fil-A are engaged in a tense long-term standoff that occasionally flares into proxy conflict. Most recently Popeyes won a 2019 social media shoutout with Chick-fil-A dubbed #chickensandwhichwars.

The complex cultural politics of Popeyes versus Chick-fil-A have attracted high-level analysis.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen at Beaumont, California

The UK debut follows Popeyes first steps into the European market with rollouts in Spain in 2019 and Switzerland in 2020. 

The first UK outlet will open by the end of this year. The firm promises “a rich in-store and digital experience”.

Popeyes insist its chicken is different because it has been marinated for 12 hours in bold Louisiana seasonings. All Popeyes chefs are classically trained and bring an uncompromising passion for food and a commitment to honour Louisiana food, flavours and traditions, the company said. 

Founded in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1972, Popeyes is a global player in the fried chicken market and currently boasts 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries. 

Popeyes will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International Inc., Ring International Holdings and hospitality-industry veteran Elias Diaz Sese.