Taco Bell is looking to open 20 UK sites during the course of 2019, as it aims to reach c170 sites in the next five years, MCA has learnt.

Jorge Torres, general manager of Taco Bell UK and Europe, told MCA the franchise business, owned by Yum! Brands, was keen to double its estate in London this year – it opened it first site in the capital, in Hammersmith, in November, and has since opened in Holborn, Fulham and Croydon.

“London is a country on its own, and we are just scratching the surface,” he said. “We are hoping to develop in London even further and are looking at areas like Clapham and Wimbledon.”

However, Torres said London was by no means the only focus, and that it was looking at all geographical locations in the UK, particularly those where it has no presence at the moment, such as Birmingham.

Taco Bell is about to open its 38th site in the UK this weekend in Glasgow – its second in the city and it also has a further drive thru lined up to open in Doncaster, where it also has an existing restaurant.

He said the business, which recently moved to Yum!’s head office in Woking, alongside KFC, had tripled the size of its head office team over the past six months, and was now in a position where it could scale up the business over the next few years.

“We have a very strong team right now. We have secured all the key functions and established a platform that will enable us to grow over the next few years,” he said.

He said that while Taco Bell was still a young brand in terms of its presence in the UK, customers had a lot of pre-awareness due to its heritage in the US, therefore he felt it gave the business an advantage over other new brands entering the market.

In terms of trading, Torres said Taco Bell was looking forward to a strong 2019, with transaction volumes up 8% in the first quarter and like-for-likes up 11% over the same period.