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Wingstop confident ‘chicken loving' UK won't leave it on a wing and a prayer

01 June 2018 by
Wingstop confident ‘chicken loving' UK won't leave it on a wing and a prayer

American chicken wing restaurant chain Wingstop is confident Britain's "chicken loving" diners will embrace its concept eyeing 100 openings by 2030.

The brand will open its first site in London's Shaftesbury Avenue later this summer and chief executive Charlie Morrison has told The Caterer

He said: "I think it's going to work very well. We've found that our brand is very portable anywhere we go outside the US. We're in our ninth, maybe tenth, country and in all these countries we've identified that people love to eat wings and they love to eat chicken wings as a centre of the plate item, rather than perhaps an appetiser or secondary item on the menu."

The UK menu will mirror the chain's US offering incorporating bone-in and boneless chicken wings, as well as chicken tenders served in 11 flavours ranging from sweet, to savoury and spicy.

Sides will include French fries as well as ranch dressing, coleslaw and vegetable sticks.

Wingstop's UK restaurants will focus on the eat-in market using technology to build on the diner experience, although Morrison predicts that delivery will increasingly become part of the business model.

He added: "Our experience in the US and around the world is that we compete in the tier just above quick service restaurants. It's still great value but our product is fresh, cooked to order and we make our sides in the restaurants from scratch every day.

"We expect to [move into the delivery market] down the road, maybe not right off the bat but we do expect that delivery can be an opportunity to grow the brand."

Early UK restaurants are expected to open in London, with Boxpark Wembley already earmarked, before expanding across the UK.

Morrison (pictured below) said he was unconcerned about the widely reported oversaturation of the casual dining market in the UK and competition from chains such as Nando's, believing Wingstop has an original offering.

wingstop-3-charlie-morrison
wingstop-3-charlie-morrison

He said: "It doesn't worry us, I compliment [Nando's] for their success, they've done very well. But the concept is totally different from Wingstop, they certainly sell chicken but it's a different experience.

"At the end of the day, brands like that exist everywhere because people love chicken. We're unique, there are no other concepts that serve chicken wings as the centre of the plate item, we're 1,200 restaurants strong already and have grown very fast. That gives us great confidence coming into the market.

"We think the pace of growth planned is very achievable, it would be consistent with any number of the markets that we have experienced already. Our vision is to have 20 or 25 international markets with the potential for up to 100 restaurants. Chicken is the most consumed protein in the world, everywhere you go in the world people love chicken so that alone gives us confidence we can achieve our goal here."

Marketing for Wingstop's UK move has started and Morrison said there is a "real buzz and excitement" already building up, adding that getting people to try the concept's flavours will be the group's primary means of pecking its way into the market.

US fast food giant Wingstop to launch flagship UK site>>

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