Q&A: Does Panda Express Franchise in the UK?

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Whether youíre a huge Panda Express fan when you go holiday or have never heard of the brand and want to find out more, this article has lots of interesting information about the fast food giant. Our main focus will be answering whether or not it franchises in the UK.

With more than 30 yearsí experience in the food industry and a Golden Chain Award from the National Restaurant Association, Panda Express is an incredibly successful business that generates a turnover of $2 billion. Having already celebrated the launch of its 2,000th restaurant, the American-Chinese fast food franchise is seeing rapid development across the US, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea. But does Panda Express franchise in the UK?

History of Panda Express

The Panda Express journey began ten years prior to the opening of the first restaurant, when the Panda Restaurant Group launched its first Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena, California in 1973.

After a decade of success, the group then opened the doors to its first Panda Express, which - as its name suggests - offers a fast food version of Panda Innís offerings.

This new brand combined the food traditions of China and America, creating a fusion menu of American-Chinese cuisine. And the Panda Restaurant Group didnít stop there. In 1992, the first Hibachi-San was launched in Minnesota, providing customers with Japanese teppanyaki and sushi.

Does Panda Express franchise in the UK?

While Panda Express owns the title of Americaís largest family-owned restaurant, it doesnít operate a franchise model both overseas and in the UK.

Panda Restaurant Group states that it manages all of its branded restaurants other than those in specific locations such as airports, universities, military bases, hospitals, casinos, amusement parks and stadiums. Although the brand has branched out to countries such as Canada, Japan and Korea, there arenít currently any restaurants in the UK.

Did you know? Panda Express is an incredibly successful business that generates a turnover of $2 billion

With its dedication to expansion and brand development, UK Panda Express locations could be in the pipeline - the UK certainly doesnít suffer from a lack of Asian-cuisine fans. An expansion into British territories, taking advantage of a gap in the UK food market, has the potential to be extremely beneficial for the Panda Restaurant Group.

While Panda Express may not be franchising currently, there are many similar franchises that offer Asian cuisine or fast food dishes in the UK. Letís have a quick look at the market for these in the UK and then look at our top three franchise opportunities.

Chinese fast food market in the UK

This year, the British public voted Chinese as their favourite takeaway, beating Indian and Fish and Chips to the mark. Itís also the third most popular cuisine when eating out (69 percent), just behind British (81 percent) and Italian (75 percent). Itís thought that around 1 in 10 Brits indulge in the delicious cuisine at least once a week!

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of fast food outlets increased by 34 percent (BBC). Sales were on the rise too, with the number of those coming from fast food outlets (20.6 percent) growing significantly more than full-service restaurants (7.2 percent).

These stats suggest that starting an Asian fast food restaurant is an incredibly viable business move, what with much of the public craving the colourful, aromatic cuisine on a regular basis and the fast food service industry booming.

Similar Franchise Opportunities

Letís take a look at three of our top Asian fast food franchise picks:


Established in Chester in 2008, this Asian food franchise offers noodle and rice dishes, along with salads, soups and Asian ice creams. Wok&Go blends food traditions from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan to bring the very best healthy and speedy dishes to its customers.

The brand is based on very quick service, despite only cooking individual dishes after the order has been made, it ensures that only fresh and nutritious food makes its way to customers. Asian food fanatics can find Wok&Go in 18 locations in the UK, across North West, North East and Southern England and Wales.

  • Becoming a Wok&Go franchisee: The brand has high hopes for expansion and is particularly looking for qualified individual and corporate franchisees interested in opening up in the South of England, London and Manchester.
  • How much you need to invest: Interested franchisees should make a total investment of £200,000 and pay franchise fees of £20,000.
  • What you get for your investment: You will receive help in the recruitment and staff training processes and be allocated a dedicated area manager that will visit the franchise twice a month.

Wok to Walk

Wok to Walk is a similar franchise offering Asian cuisine with speedy service. Founded in Amsterdam in 2004, the franchise recognises the demand for quick, healthy and varied meals in the modern world, providing tasty dishes across almost 100 locations around the world. The franchise gets in fresh supplies daily, and only uses the highest quality, MSG-free ingredients.

  • Becoming a Wok to Walk franchisee: The fast food restaurant is ambitious in its plans to grow its brand, particularly within the UK. The Asian food franchise is actively looking for potential business partners who are interested in managing their own Wok to Walk store. Those interested in franchising with the brand also have the option of becoming a master franchisee and governing a collection of Wok to Walk outlets.
  • How much you need to invest: Franchisees will need to invest a minimum of £100,000, plus £45,000 in franchise fees, and, in return, will benefit from a comprehensive training programme.
  • What you get for your investment: Youíll have access to an intensive training programme, so you have all the relevant information needed to run your own unit. Thereís also a HQ team on hand for additional support throughout your franchising journey.


Another way of tapping into the market for Asian food and drink products is to invest in a bubble tea franchise. Bubbleology was founded in 2011 and now has stores across the UK and US. The brand offers a menu of hot or cold flavoured fruit and milk bubble teas with chewy tapioca balls.

The brand is passionate, not only about the development of the brand, but about making a positive impact and giving to less fortunate communities. This means customers can feel good about their purchase, as the bubble tea business donates money to international programmes that help to build wells in Africa.

  • Becoming a Bubbleology franchisee: This franchise asks that candidates have previous experience in the retail or restaurant industry and are passionate about the franchise and its growth.
  • How much you need to invest: Franchisees should be able to make an investment of £120,000 and hold some industry experience and/or market knowledge.
  • What you get for your investment: Franchisees can regularly visit the Bubbleology headquarters in London to boost their knowledge of the brand, and benefit from established training schemes.

Make the most of our free advice!

Wondering how much it costs to start a fast food restaurant? See our handy guide of the five start up costs to think about when opening up. Also, if youíre thinking about running your own fast food restaurant, see if youíve got what it takes by reading this article.

We have a wealth of franchising information on our site that you can take advantage of. Simply type keywords in the search box here and scroll down to the articles.

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