Popeyes UK - An Alternative Chicken Franchise?

10/11/2018 18:00 | Fast Food Franchises

popeyes uk

Popeyes is one of the most popular chicken franchises in the USA and a global franchising success story. However, not much is known about the brand in the UK. Here, we take a look at why the business has yet to establish itself in the UK market and whether there are any franchise alternatives.

Popeyes franchise history

Popeyes was established in New Orleans, USA, in 1972. Over the years, it has gone through a number of name changes, including Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken & Biscuits. However, since 2008, the business has been known as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. The name change reflects the organisations attempts to appeal to a more international audience.

The restaurant chain adopted the franchise model in 1976 and began international expansion in 1984 when it opened its first restaurant in Canada. By 1985, it had more than 500 restaurants in operation. Popeyes was taken public in 2001, with an initial public offering of around $142,000,000. Today, the franchise has more than 2,600 restaurants worldwide and is the third largest chicken Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) in the world. These restaurants span 30 countries, and all but 30 stores are franchise operations.

Popeyes products

Popeyes is known for its Cajun-spiced cuisine, and Louisiana inspired foods. Chicken acts as the focus of the menu, though the restaurant serves also serves distinct sides. These include red beans and rice, Cajun-style gravy, and macaroni cheese. The franchise's origins are also reflected in the number of New Orleans standards found throughout the menu. Diners can enjoy po boy sandwiches and chicken and sausage jambalaya with their meal.

Meals typically come with a side order and biscuit. The biscuit was originally central to the chicken and gravy dishes offered by Popeyes and could be likened to a savoury scone or light dumpling. They form an integral part of deep south cuisine and have been served by Popeyes staff since the restaurant's conception.

Popeyes chicken UK

Currently, there are no Popeyes restaurants in the UK. However, the restaurant is open to franchising in international markets and would be happy to work with interested investors to establish whether there is a viable market for their products in the UK. Considering the success of other chicken franchises, it's highly likely that Popeyes could establish itself in the UK market and begin growing a loyal customer base with relative ease.

The franchise's strong brand identity and dedicated US following would give it an advantage when it came to distinguishing itself from the competition, and the menu's distinct, Cajun flavour would also provide it with a unique selling point. Popeyes could also capitalise on the difficulties other chicken retailers in the UK have experienced over the last year. KFC, in particular, has had an extremely challenging 12 months, which culminated in the chicken restaurants suppliers having troubles and many KFC locations running out of chicken.

Popeyes franchise UK

For those hoping to bring the franchise to this country and launch Popeyes UK, there are some considerations to make before contacting the franchise management team for more information. First and foremost, franchisees need to understand that Popeyes only sign area development agreements for five or more restaurants. This is to ensure that those who invest in the franchise are committed to aggressive expansion and are financially capable of supporting that growth.

This means that any investor hoping to bring Popeyes to the UK will have to build a minimum of five restaurants over a pre-agreed timescale. The franchising process typically takes somewhere between three and four months, though this may be longer in the UK due to it being an entirely new market. Applicants would also need to demonstrate that they have the business, finance, and marketing acumen required to launch the franchise in a competitive and cut-throat market.

Alternative chicken franchises

If youre still interested in opening a chicken franchise but are somewhat put off Popeyes by the cost of a large area development agreement or the scale of the challenge facing the first UK franchisor, there are other chicken franchises to consider. Here, we take a look at three of the most popular.


Few franchises can claim as significant a brand reach as KFC. With over 20,000 restaurants in 123 countries, it's the second largest restaurant chain in the world and an excellent investment opportunity. In the UK alone, the franchise operates over 780 locations and generates a turnover of around £685 million. Approximately 70% of these restaurants are franchisee-run, with the rest operated by the business.

The average turnover for a franchise outlet in the UK is somewhere between £1 million and £1.5 million, making it an extremely profitable business venture. For this reason, the cost of starting a KFC franchise can be amongst the highest of all fast food franchises.

Chicken Cottage

Unlike Popeyes or KFC, Chicken Cottage originates in the UK. Founded in 1994, the company approach fried chicken from a unique perspective, combining US and Indian spices to create a distinct blend of flavours. The franchise has successfully pursued a policy of aggressive international expansion, opening stores in markets as diverse as Germany, Syria, Dubai, France, and South Africa.

Currently, there are franchising opportunities available to those willing to invest. A franchise unit costs approximately £210,000 to £280,000 to set up, while a master franchise can be purchased for anywhere between £350,000 and £1,000,000, depending on the country.


Franzos was founded in 2012 as a fast food alternative to Piri Piri restaurants in the UK. With intelligent marketing and an appealing image, Franzos has managed to establish itself as a popular restaurant amongst chicken connoisseurs across the country. To become a Franzos franchisee, a total investment of £150,000 is required. This makes it an affordable alternative to many of the more expensive franchises in the chicken sector. On the back of this investment, franchisees can expect to generate approximately £750,000 in revenue over the first two years of business.

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