Chicken QSR Popeyes plans to double its estate in 2024, adding 30 sites to its existing 38 and granting it the title of fastest-growing QSR in the country.

Chief development officer Tom Byng spoke to The Grocer about its plans to become ‘a brand for everyone’ as it expands to cover all corners of the UK

How is your customer base growing? And what is Popeyes’ strategy to keep expanding?

“We know the brand resonates incredibly well with the 18 to 35 market. But as we open more stores in different locations, what we see is that our customer base is varied.

“While the operations team are focused on expanding our UK footprint, our R&D team are working hand in hand to make Popeyes a brand for everyone. That means continuous development, from working harder on a family proposition, to covering different meal occasions throughout the day.

“So we’re trying to offer food for every part of the day and every kind of meal type that somebody wants to experience with us, which is firmly in line with our QSR base of the business.”

Popeyes CFO byng

Popeyes CDO Tom Byng

Is there a particular region you are targeting?

“We knew from the start we didn’t want to be just a London-based brand. Instead of expanding in the city and then gradually branching out, we wanted to be nationwide from the get-go.

“In general, we are not focusing on one area, it’s about picking the right sites to open. But we also know the Scottish consumer really loves our food.

“We had an amazing opening in Glasgow at the end of last year, which was the biggest opening for Popeyes globally.

“The opening of our drive-through just outside Glasgow in Barrhead was unbelievable: we had three-hour queues, people waiting in their cars. We ended up having to have the police had to come and help us marshal people. It was remarkable.

“As a result, we’ve got more openings coming in Scotland. However, we want to keep targeting big hubs and drive-throughs across the UK.

“We have new branches coming up in Exeter, Plymouth, Cardiff, and Manchester, where we have a huge student custom.

“We are exploring new methods of delivery, and at the moment we are particularly excited to see what a drive-through would be in a major city like Manchester, and keep growing the on-the-go aspect in line with our strategy.”

Popeyes Ealing

Popeyes Ealing

Can you elaborate more on the strategy? And what can customers expect in the coming months?

“We open our flagship units in city centres so that the name of the brand gets out, people start recognising and familiarising themselves with it. Then we open drive-throughs on the major arterial roads in.

“We’ve done that in Cardiff, now Manchester will follow and we have similar plans for Nottingham later on in the year.

“In the coming months, customers can expect to see the brand pop up in their local area – and in terms of our food, they can count on more of the same.

“Our latest adventure is Waterloo Station. Forty-three million people a year go through it, and it’s a prime location sitting alongside huge brands like McDonald’s and Greggs.

“It’s a massive vote of confidence in the brand, and it’s exactly the kind of brand exposure you could hope for.”