Atlanta-based U.S. fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A currently offers food at 2,700 restaurants in nearly every U.S. state, as well as a few select stores in Canada and Puerto Rico. Now the company is looking to grab a bigger bite of the global market.
Chick-Fil-A has had failed attempts in international markets. From 1996 to 2001, Chick-Fil-A was present in South Africa, but then withdrew because the company failed to build brand awareness. In 2019, the company failed to establish a market in the United Kingdom when it pulled out after widespread protests over the company’s donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations.
But the company didn’t give up. Soon after, in 2021, CEO Dan Cathy, son of founder Truett Cathy, announced that international expansion was again on the horizon, and the chicken giant opened restaurants in Canada. And just last week, in March 2023, the founder’s grandson, Andrew Cathy, outlined the company’s next steps in global markets.
The company, best known to customers for its fried chicken sandwiches and impeccable service, and to franchisees for low cost of entry and one of the highest sales per location, plans to invest $1 billion in markets in Europe and Asia.
Chick-Fil-A is clearly planning for the long haul. The first restaurants will open in 2026, and in the years leading up to 2030, the chain plans to focus on five international markets.
With $16.7 billion in sales, Chick-Fil-A is the third largest restaurant chain in the United States, surpassed only by McDonald’s and Starbucks. Internationally, however, competition is fierce, and one wonders if Chick-Fil-A will be able to compete with the other chicken giant, KFC, which currently operates 24,000 restaurants worldwide and opened a new restaurant EVERY TWO HOURS between 2021 and 2022? Size matters, and you can’t discount KFC’s long history in China that comes with a deep understanding of the market and the political environment, which the company has leveraged very successfully. It’ll also be interesting to see if Chick-Fil-A’s restrictive policy of retaining ownership of all restaurants will fly. Time will tell if people will eat more chicken globally!