Wendy’s plans to focus more on regional expansion, rather than becoming London-centric, as it attempts to break into the UK market for the third time.

Paul Hilder, senior vice president and managing director of Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada and the United Kingdom, tells MCA’s sister title Big Hospitality that, contrary to its last attempt which saw high-profile sites opened on Shaftesbury Avenue and Oxford Circus, the business would be taking a more local approach this time round.

“London is still part of the plan, but we believe there’s lot of opportunity to reach people sooner by adopting a regional approach, particularly as we bring in franchisees to the business, which will accelerate growth,” he explained.

Wendy’s opened its first site in Reading last week and has further restaurant openings coming up in Oxford and East London, with a total of five sites due to launch before the end of the year.

Hilder said the pandemic had forced the brand to shift its operating model, focusing more on delivery and the use of mobile and digital, and has therefore encouraged it to explore different ways the consumer accesses the brand. “We are looking at both drive thru and high street locations, as well as the potential of dark kitchens in the UK,” he said.

Wendy’s has an ambition of opening up to 400 sites in the UK, but despite this Hilder says the brand is focused on being “the best not the biggest”. “The research we did as we came to return to the UK showed that there was a significant premium offering in the hamburger market with the likes of Five Guys.

“Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s McDonald’s. We see a real opportunity of being able to serve a product that we think is equal to Five Guys in quality but offer it at a more competitive price.”

To read the full interview on Big Hospitality click here