Why Chick-Fil-A Has Struggled So Much To Expand Overseas

Chick-fil-A sandwich, fries, and drink
Chick-fil-A sandwich, fries, and drink - Chick-fil-A/Facebook

Many Americans consider Chick-fil-A to be one of their favorite restaurants of all time. That popularity is apparent, with the brand boasting one of the busiest drive-thrus out of any fast food chain, and its sales exceeding well over $10 billion every year. And that's all without being open on Sundays.

With all this success, there's one thing about Chick-fil-A that leaves us scratching our heads. Why hasn't the chain seen success beyond the U.S.? Its current 2,800+ restaurants open in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada seem to be doing quite well, so what's stopping the brand from going global? What you might not know about Chick-fil-A is that it has tried opening locations abroad but has not had the same luck as it's seen with its U.S. stores. Why? Well, the reasonings differ per location.

When it comes to the brand's six-month trial run in the UK in 2019, which began in a mall in Reading, a town west of London, it was successful sales-wise and had a steady stream of customers, but protestors were unhappy with then-CEO Dan T. Cathy's comments opposing same-sex marriage. After a six-month trial and backlash from LGBTQ+ rights activists, it was shut down. No permanent location has opened since the trial, and that was just one of Chick-fil-A's failed expansion efforts.

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Other Barriers Chick-Fil-A Has Faced While Expanding Abroad

Outside of a Chick-fil-A
Outside of a Chick-fil-A - Wolterk/Getty Images

While Chick-fil-A's temporary location in London didn't lead to anything permanent, the problems didn't begin there. Looking beyond the UK, Chick-fil-A also attempted to expand to South Africa in the mid-1990s. But while it lasted in South Africa for much longer than it did in London, it moved out after six years. In this case, it's believed that Chick-fil-A failed to build enough brand awareness to properly sustain the location.

While Chick-fil-A couldn't generate success in these two markets, the brand was able to build new locations beyond the United States in Canada and Puerto Rico, so expansion is not impossible. In fact, Chick-fil-A recently rolled out new plans to expand into Europe and Asia in the years to come. Maybe after learning a few lessons, these new locations will fare better than those from the past.

The Chicken Chain's Plans To Take Things Global In The Near Future

A Chick-fil-A food truck
A Chick-fil-A food truck - George Rose/Getty Images

Chick-fil-A has faced its fair share of problems while trying to expand in the past, but that hasn't stopped its expansion efforts completely. The chicken chain recently rolled out a new plan to take things international by 2025, with the brand setting its sights on locations in Europe and Asia.

Sometime in early 2025, the chain intends to start its latest expansion project by opening five new stores in the UK. These establishments will pop up sometime in the span of two years, with each location being locally owned and operated. The brand plans to expand across the UK from there, with Chick-fil-A planning to invest over $100 million in the project within the next 10 years. This expansion will be a milestone for the brand and marks the first permanent store Chick-fil-A will have outside of North America.

By 2030, Chick-fil-A hopes to explore the option of opening stores in additional locations, too. So while you might not be able to find the chicken chain while on a trip to Ireland or Japan quite yet, the day where you can grab a classic Chick-fil-A sandwich while abroad might be in sight.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.