American burger giant Wendy’s to take on McDonald’s and Burger King with 400 outlets in Britain
American burger giant Wendy’s is turning the heat on McDonald’s and Burger King with a plan to open up to 400 outlets in Britain, just months after becoming the second-largest burger chain in the US.
Wendy’s international boss Abigail Pringle said it will ‘steal market share’ in the UK from both its major rivals, starting with an outlet in Reading which opens on June 2.
It has a motto specifically for the UK market – All Beef, No Bull – which, Pringle said, would enshrine its approach to food preparation and supply, customers and staff.
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Britons may find the Wendy’s brand familiar after an abandoned foray here in the 1980s and 90s.
You may recall its ‘Girl in the Pigtails’ sign, that it is famous for its square burgers – and that Arnold Schwarzenegger has enjoyed a few along the way. The girl – daughter of founder Dave Thomas – has survived several company makeovers and helped make the firm one of the best-known brands in the States.
Wendy’s uses every opportunity to contrast its rivals’ approaches with its promise of locally sourced produce and freshly made burgers using meat that isn’t frozen.
International boss Abigail Pringle claimed Wendy’s is ‘a great underdog’, adding: ‘We want to be the best, not always the biggest.
‘That’s been true for us from 1969 all the way to now as we launch the brand here. I think customers are rooting for us.’
That includes a promise of ‘no zero-hour contracts’, she added.
This will be seen as a swipe at rivals such as McDonald’s, which has come under fire for using contracts that do not guarantee working hours each week.
Pringle said of the motto: ‘It’s more than a tagline – it’s what you get. We’re not going to B-S [bullsh*t] you – we’re going to give you fresh beef, all British produce.
‘And we are going to treat our people the way they should be treated. [That means] no zero-hour contracts and bonuses paid at crew level, rather than just management saying: ‘If we win, you win.’
McDonald’s currently says on its website that it offers a ‘choice of flexible or fixed contracts’ to employees, following pressure from workers and unions.
Wendy’s move into the UK, which was first revealed by The Mail on Sunday two years ago, could ultimately create thousands of jobs and trigger a new entry into the delivery market through a partnership with Uber Eats.
Burgers from Wendy’s include the Dave’s Single and the Baconator – the latter being the largest from its American menu arriving in the UK at around 950 calories – equivalent to drinking more than four pints of Guinness.
The chain expects to have around 7,000 restaurants globally by the end of this year.
Pringle said there is an opportunity to open between 300 and 400 in Britain and the firm will use its team here to plan an expansion into mainland Europe.
By contrast, McDonald’s has 1,300 outlets in the UK and more than 36,000 worldwide.
Pringle said: ‘Putting Covid aside for a moment, the overall hamburger segment and the informal eating out segment has been growing. But, even if there wasn’t significant growth, we think we can steal market share from some of the other informal eating-out burger chains – ones that come to mind are McDonald’s and Burger King – but even Five Guys and some of the other [more upmarket] brands.’
Wendy’s has credited its emphasis on quality as part of the reason it has dethroned Burger King over the past year as the No2 burger company in the US.
Pringle added: ‘We think the British consumer shouldn’t have to pay more than they need to and still have great quality.’