Slim Chickens leaving mark on UK
Slim Chickens has set its sights on Europe. The 70-unit chain, which has 250 locations under development in the U.S. and Middle East, announced plans this week to develop in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of a deal with Boparan Restaurant Group, a restaurant ownership organization based in England.
The first will open in the first quarter of 2018 in London.
"This is another landmark moment in our brand's growth," Tom Gordon, co-founder and CEO of Slim Chickens, said in an email to FastCasual. "We're spreading our wings and bringing our second-to-none chicken to another international market and are excited about continuing our international growth."
Under the Boparan Restaurant Group partnership, Slim Chickens plans to grow rapidly in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the next 10 years, fueling momentum for further international development, Gordon said.
"In the UK there's a big opportunity in the fast-casual chicken segment with little existing competition in the marketplace," said Tom Crowley, CEO of Boparan Restaurant Group, which also owns Giraffe World Kitchen, Burgers & Cocktails, FishWorks, Ed's Easy Diner and additional chains.
"We were looking for a progressive concept that would fill this gap and Slim Chickens was the perfect fit. We loved the product and the design and branding have a modern approach. We feel confident that Slim Chickens will be successful in the UK due to our connections here, paired with the brand's strong leadership team helping fuel growth through strong operations."
"It's clear that our brand's offering has been a hit stateside and we have no doubt that we will see this same reception as we continue our international growth," said Slim Chickens COO Sam Rothschild. "Boparan is the right partner to lead the charge of introducing better chicken and making Slim Chickens a household name in the United Kingdom and Ireland."
Why the UK?
"It is a solid fact that the demand for eating out among UK consumers are growing," Elif Polat, research analyst at Euromonitor International, told FastCasual.
"Consumer foodservice grew by 3 percent in value terms in 2016, an important achievement for the industry considering the fact that UK is a quite mature market," Polat said in an interview with FastCasual.
Polat predicted that it will continue to grow over the next five years with a value growth of 7 percent from 2016 to 2021.
"This can be linked to the fact that UK consumers eat out more as a result of consumers' changing cooking habits driven by busy working lives and the demand for convenience," Polat said. "Especially, young adults are the main drivers for the sector to grow as they are less likely to cook and seek for ready meals in order to save time or to entertain with their friends by eating out."
Gordon believes Slim Chickens can become a familiar name in the UK and then grow in neighboring countries.
Other western-based chains have recently targeted Europe. Which Wich Superior Sandwiches CEO Jeff Sinelli said the brand is focused on opening 10 locations throughout London in the short term, with a capacity to add more than 100 locations around the country. Canada-based Tim Hortons opened last year in Glasgow, and Wingstop is planning 100 locations over the next 12 years throughout the UK.
The area is such a hotbed of franchise action that the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit is hosting its second annual event there and is expecting speakers from all over the world, said the event's host Cherryh Cansler. Registration is open.
Companies: Slim Chickens