As it readies entry into Canada and China markets, chicken-wing chain makes bet on UK
Wingstop continues to grow in the United Kingdom and has invested in its UK franchise partner, Lemon Pepper Holdings Ltd. (LPH). The chicken-wing brand’s increasing confidence in the UK market and investment follows strong performance and operational execution by LPH. Terms of the transaction, in which Dow Schofield Watts and Baker McKenzie advised Wingstop, were not disclosed.
LPH and Wingstop entered into a 100-unit development deal back in 2017, as the franchise partner became the exclusive developer of the territory. Founded by Salu Levin, Tom Grogan, Herman Sahota, and Paddy Barnford, LPH is off to a good start, with strong momentum after its first Wingstop store in central London opened. Now, the franchisee’s mix of service channels and real estate selection, including high street, shopping mall and ghost kitchens, bodes well for ongoing success.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Lemon Pepper team as they grow their brand presence in the UK, a market with tremendous long-term potential,” said Michael Skipworth, Wingstop chief financial officer. “We believe this strategic use of our capital will strengthen the development pipeline in that market, and I am excited to join the Lemon Pepper Holdings Board of Directors and play a role in helping achieve the potential for the Wingstop brand in the UK.”
On the heels of a Wingstop restaurant opening in Reading in April, which was the first outside of London, LPH plans additional units in Manchester, Kingston-upon-Thames, Birmingham Bullring, and Bristol. Chicken wings were much sought-after during the pandemic as consumers went into lockdown, and Wingstop benefited from its high demand in the UK in 2020.
“We’ve been delighted by the overwhelming response from guests and look forward to bringing our brand to more regions of the UK in coming years,” said Grogan, director of LPH.
In addition to Europe, Wingstop also has its sights set on entry and development in Canada and China, which have surfaced as key markets for the company. Stores should open in these territories by 2022.
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