- Wingstop plans to open 100 restaurants in the U.K. over the next 12 years.
- The chain operates more than 1,000 locations worldwide.
- Wingstop says the U.K. is a high-chicken consumption market.
A push into European markets is on the horizon for Wingstop.
The company announced Wednesday it will be opening 100 locations in the United Kingdom over the next 12 years.
"We've been very, very focused on about 20 to 25 markets around the globe that we feel are high-chicken consumption markets, have a good competitive set and where we could really differentiate," Larry
The chicken wing chain, which operates more than 1,000 restaurants worldwide, said it will open its first restaurant in the U.K. by the end of this year.
While Wingstop has expanded to countries like Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, the European market is a little different.
Similar to the American restaurant industry, the U.K. is overly saturated and competitive. And its customers are among those who spend the lowest percent of their income on food, Aaron Allen, founder and CEO of global restaurant consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates, told CNBC.
Because of this, expanding into Europe can be difficult for brands, especially compared with developing markets such as Turkey or China that have lower labor costs, lower building costs, faster growth in population and a higher percentage of people who eat food away from home.
"Western companies often go into Western countries because they understand them, not for the potential," Allen said.
Allen said that the majority of domestic companies that expand to Europe do so because of proximity and familiarity. However, he said that for some, the market is where the investors and franchisees are. Also, it can be a place where a company will receive a tax incentive.
"We believe it's an open market," he said.
The U.K. was one of
Not to mention,
In the U.S., the rising cost of chicken wings has driven up menu prices and led average checks at wing chains to be 4 percent to 5 percent higher than a year ago, according to Bonnie Riggs,
Last year, the increase in average checks at restaurants overall was 2 percent, she said.
Wingstop's push into the U.K. comes at a time when the United States has become oversaturated with chicken-wing chains. Unit
Domestically, Wingstop has focused its effort on takeout and delivery, with limited indoor seating for patrons. Some 75 percent of the chain's business is takeout and 20 percent of all orders are made through digital channels.
"We are pretty cognizant of the realities,"