Chick-fil-A Announces Its Most Ambitious Expansion Yet: 'Time to Continue to Innovate'
The iconic and family-owned Chick-fil-A restaurants could be coming soon to a location near you — even if you don’t live in America.
In a blockbuster announcement, the beloved (and sometimes controversial) chicken restaurant revealed some major plans for its future in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
According to the WSJ, Chick-fil-A will be investing $1 billion into a program that will see new chicken restaurants popping up abroad.
Chick-fil-A intends to open restaurants in Europe and Asia by 2026.
The Journal report noted that the crispy chicken conglomerate wants to be in five total international markets by 2030.
“We feel like it’s time to continue to innovate and try and test how we will do in international markets, so that we can learn,” Andrew Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s third-generation chief executive, told the paper.
The WSJ report did make it clear that this isn’t some desperate bid for relevancy.
In fact, Chick-fil-A is noted as being the third-largest U.S. fast food chain in terms of sales — behind only the ubiquitous McDonald’s and Starbucks chains.
Sales for Chick-fil-A have actually quadrupled in the U.S. in the last 10 years.
Those famed fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are so popular in California, the state has even considered branding the restaurant chain a “public nuisance.”
So no, Chick-fil-A is not struggling in any way, shape, or form in the U.S., perhaps explaining away why Chick-fil-A’s international plans are still so embryonic.
Cathy noted that Chick-fil-A still does not have an exact number in mind for the initial wave of international openings, but the chain does plan to continue to use its “one franchisee, one restaurant” model that has proven so successful stateside.
But for as much success as Chick-fil-A has enjoyed in the U.S., the chicken chain has historically struggled to find solid footing in the international markets.
The Journal listed a pair of examples of Chick-fil-A failures, including a 1996 foray into South Africa that ended in 2001 due to lack of interest and a more recent 2019 foray near London (the company’s first) that only lasted a few months due to LGBT outrage.
“To have a company with such values in our town is abhorrent to us,” one LGBT activist said of the doomed London location.
That activist was referring to Chick-fil-A’s well-documented Christian values, which are baked into the company’s core.
But while those two aforementioned locations ultimately shuttered, Chick-fil-A is not completely without an international presence.
The company does have eight locations in Canada, and another three in Puerto Rico.
For anyone curious if Chick-fil-A will adopt McDonald’s strategy of offering regional exclusive twists on offerings, it does appear that the company will adopt some of that strategy, though perhaps not to the extent of the famous Golden Arches.
The Journal noted that Chick-fil-A “expects its international locations to serve its chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and milkshakes” but will explore those regional variants on the menu, though they don’t expect to “alter it extensively.”
Chick-fil-A was founded in May 1946 in Georgia, by the late Samuel Truett Cathy.
Aside from the company’s simple, yet iconic menu, the restaurant is perhaps best known for its Christian influences and not being open on Sundays.
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