Move over kidney pie.
One year after expanding to the Middle East, Fayetteville-based restaurant chain Slim Chickens now has its sights set on Europe.
The company announced Thursday (Jan. 25) it has signed a franchise agreement with a restaurant management group based in England to introduce multiple restaurant locations over the next ten years in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The first store could open as early as April.
“This is another landmark moment in our brand’s growth,” Slim Chickens co-founder and CEO Tom Gordon said in a statement. “We’re spreading our wings and bringing our second-to-none chicken to another international market and are excited about continuing our international growth.”
Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which employs 2,500 people and is one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, is partnering with Slim Chickens to develop the franchise. Its portfolio includes various restaurant concepts including Giraffe World Kitchen, Burgers & Cocktails, FishWorks, Ed’s Easy Diner and additional chains.
After researching and meeting with a number of American fast casual chicken chains, BRG CEO Tom Crowley said the company chose Slim Chickens as a restaurant partner because of its superior product and modern approach to branding and design.
“In the UK there’s a big opportunity in the fast-casual chicken segment with little existing competition in the marketplace,” Crowley said. “We were looking for a progressive concept that would fill this gap and Slim Chickens was the perfect fit. We loved the product and the design and branding have a modern approach. We feel confident that Slim Chickens will be successful in the UK due to our connections here, paired with the brand’s strong leadership team helping fuel growth through strong operations.”
Fast-casual chicken concepts have not enjoyed the same success as they have in the U.S. Gordon said Slim Chickens is up to the challenge of “becoming a familiar name in a new international territory, and then grow consistently in neighboring countries, providing quality chicken in a convenient setting.”
He said Slim Chickens plans to grow “rapidly” in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the next decade, building momentum for further international development.
Slim Chickens opened its first store in Fayetteville on College Avenue in 2003 and now has nearly 70 locations in 14 states and Kuwait.
The company’s 70th location is scheduled to open in Springdale later this year.