Wimpy is Britain’s oldest surviving fast-food chain and dates back to the mid-fifites. The privately-owned company has developed its burger-based offer through franchising, never owning more than seven or eight outlets itself. It operates in three formats – the original table-service restaurants, the Express counter-service units and the smaller Kiosks.
The group has sub-franchised Petrogas to develop the brand in Ireland and has recently introduced a new franchised chicken-based counter-service in RoadChef motorway service areas called Wimpy Chicken.
Number of restaurants: 280, of which 278 are run by franchisees
Number of Wimpy restaurants: 180, of which two are company-owned.
Number of Wimpy Express and Kiosk units: 100
Number of Wimpy Chicken outlets: 13
Number of employees: 40
Number of franchisees: approximately 200
Wimpy Restaurants are table-service outlets in high streets and shopping precincts. They are typically 1,500-2,000 sq ft in size. Investment for a new-build 1,500 sq ft restaurant with 60 seats starts from £140,000
Wimpy Express counter-service units are found in food courts; shopping, leisure, bowling centres; and motorway service areas. They start from 500 sq ft in size and from £45,000 in initial investment.
Wimpy Kiosks are found in the same same sites as Wimpy Express but do not co-exist with them. The Kiosks replace the Express units where space is at a premium, offering a reduced menu. They start from 130 sq ft in size and from £45,000 in initial investment.
Wimpy Chicken units stand alongside Wimpy Express units at RoadChef MSAs.
Managing director: John Davison
Non-executive chairman: Max Woolfenden
Operations director: Roger Ahearn
Operations director: Iain Cameron
Finance director: Neil Messider
Wimpy was named after a cartoon character, namely the burger-loving J Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye strip.
It is Britain’s fifth largest restaurant group and, as the UK’s oldest living fast-food chain, can claim a number of firsts. It was the first quick-service burger chain to use vegetable oil and the first to offer a beanburger (in 1985), a brown bun, and a Quorn burger (in 1997).
In 1998 it won both the Franchisor of the Year and the Franchisee of the Year awards.
To date, its move into the chicken market has been confined to franchises at RoadChef MSAs but the company is considering opening out the brand to general franchisees.