by Angela Jameson
Wendy's hamburger restaurants, the fifth biggest restaurant chain in the USA, has signed agreements to open eight London stores by August.
Further openings of the burger chain, which has consistently been voted the USA's favourite in the Restaurants & Institutions consumer survey, are expected to follow soon afterwards in Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.
This push in to the UK comes three years after Wendy's returned to this country, having previously withdrawn from Europe in 1986.
"Ten years ago the management wasn't strong enough to take the company on. Since then we have a new team and have reorganised and revalued. We believe there is room for us in this market," said Fred Younker, director of International franchising.
The company, which enjoyed sales of $4.2b in 1994, intends to develop Wendy's into a global brand. Using the UK as a base, European development in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark is expected in the next three to five years. "Compared with the other hamburger chains, we're way ahead on quality and variety. Consumer research in London shows people want this," said Mr Younker.
Ten to 12 UK store openings are projected for 1995, which will initially be company-owned. However, further expansion will be achieved through a mixture of franchises and joint ventures.
Wendy's will shortly advertise for prospective franchisees. Its approach to franchising would be flexible, allowing franchisees to choose whether to lease or own a restaurant, said Mr Younker.
Joint ventures or franchises with major retailers, hospitals, airports, hotels and brewers are also under discussion.