Burger King UK is looking to open a “significant number” of new restaurants in 2022, having launched 10 sites in as many days, CEO Alasdair Murdoch has told MCA.

Murdoch said the UK business had achieved its first quarter ambitions with the recent flurry of openings, and he said he would be very happy if it could maintain expansion at this rate.

A key area of focus for the brand is drive-thru, while dark kitchens are being used as a way of increasing market penetration, he said.

Having proven resilient over the past two years, Murdoch said Burger King UK was looking to take advantage of the post-pandemic landscape, and gain ground on rivals KFC and McDonald’s.

On its estate, Murdoch told MCA the mix of corporate and franchised sites allowed the business to push forward with its reimaging programme, which was moving at a rate of around 40 restaurants a year.

He said: “Out of 500-515 sites, we have about 175-180 of them. I think we would see our share growing a bit, but nevertheless, we’re still onboarding new franchisees.

“We see very good returns on our remodelling, we think it benefits the very considerably trying to update and move the image forward

“If you look at some of our latest reimages, Leicester Square for example, they look so much better and much more compelling than some of the older estates and older image

“It’s overdue, but one of the challenges that faces us and faces everyone is the availability of bits and pieces for the reimages and the new remodels.”

On areas of growth, he said: “In an ideal world, the key growth area for us is drive thru, and we’re very focused on that.

“Alongside drive thru, we’re beginning to look back onto the High Street. We see good opportunities out there and with the growth of delivery, it allows us back into that kind of marketplace quite well.

On its opening targets, he said: “The reality is, we’re looking to do a significant number, and if we can maintain this rate, we’ll be more than happy.

“There’s an opportunity post- pandemic. We’re trying to take advantage of that opportunity like many others have and we see that good growth out there – I don’t see us chaining ourselves to a number.”

On dark kitchens, he said: “If you look at our competition, KFC and McDonald’s, it’s very obvious they’ve got more restaurants than us. What dark kitchens allow us to do, is they allow us to get into trade areas where we don’t necessarily have a site. We will open a few a year but it’s not a major platform for growth.”

He said he could not comment on speculation that the Bridgepoint-backed business was planning an IPO, but added: “Burger King UK is a strong business with strong fundamentals. We’ve proven to be very resilient. We’ll continue to do so and I think there’s a lot of growth.”