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Wendy’s is bringing its square burgers back to Britain after 20 years

A Wendy's location displays the restaurant logo.
A Wendy's location displays the restaurant logo.

Wendy’s is returning to the United Kingdom following a two-decade hiatus, judging now the right time to take advantage of Britons’ growing appetite for quick and convenient meals.

The American burger chain said in a statement that it’s aiming to open 300 to 400 outlets nationwide. It expects to create between 9,000 and 20,000 jobs in the longer term but declined to comment further. It has also agreed to a partnership with Uber Eats for deliveries.

Known for its square burger patties, the brand’s UK menu will feature several signature items including the Baconator, a double cheese burger with bacon, and the Frosty, a frozen dairy dessert. It will also include various fried chicken sandwiches.

To cater to increased appetites for plant-based alternatives, Wendy’s plans to add the Veggie Stack to its UK menu, describing it as a “custom blend of vegetables and grains.” Its breakfast menu, which buoyed sales in the United States last year, will also debut in the United Kingdom at launch.

The first Wendy’s will open in Reading on June 2, followed by four restaurants in east London and Oxford later this year. Each outlet typically has 30 to 50 employees and Wendy’s said it aims to create at least 1,000 jobs in the next two years, suggesting it will open at least 20 restaurants over that time.

The plan is to use the United Kingdom as a launch pad into Europe.

“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 number two player in the US hamburger market,” the company said.

Founded in 1969, Wendy’s has more than 6,800 outlets worldwide. It exited the United Kingdom in 2001, citing high operating costs, but believes now is the right time to return. “British consumers are craving great-tasting, high quality food at more affordable prices, and Wendy’s is poised to deliver,” it said.

Wendy’s is the latest US takeout chain to announce a major push into the United Kingdom, although its footprint will be smaller than established rivals McDonald’s and Burger King, which have around 1,300 and 500 outlets respectively.

Popeyes unveiled plans recently to bring its friend chicken sandwiches to Britain for the first time later this year and is targeting 350 UK restaurants over the next decade. The brand believes now is the ideal time to launch in the United Kingdom, as pent up demand following lockdowns boosts spending on eating out.

Even before the pandemic, there had been a considerable increase in the consumption of food outside the home in Britain, according to a RAND Europe report published last year.

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