US chicken concept Wingstop is to launch in the UK this year ahead of a planned 100-strong rollout.
The group, which has 1,031 locations worldwide, has entered into an agreement with Lemon Pepper Holdings (LPH), led by Rita Sharma – the founder of Besttravel.co.uk.
It will be the aviation themed, chicken wings specialist’s first foray into Europe. The plan is to open the first UK site this year and grow to 100 sites over the next 12 years.
The LPH board also includes Saul Lewin and Boris Kofman of V2 Leisure, which was involved in launching Novikov in the UK in 2011 and brokered the launches of Sumosan Twiga, Park Chinois, and most recently opened MNKY HSE in the UK; as well as Tom Grogan, co-founder of Lutti London, a privately owned real estate investment group.
Sharma said: “My family and I are very excited to bring Wingstop to the United Kingdom. We have been assessing an investment into the food and beverage sector for some time and believe Wingstop is the right opportunity with the right team involved. Wingstop brings a new and exciting option to an underserved chicken category within the overall UK food sector.”
Sharma said the group had created a strong operational team, advisory council and support structure with UK experience in brands such as Shake Shack, Five Guys, Pret a Manger, Cote Brasserie and Jamie Oliver’s Italian.
Larry Kruguer, President of International at Wingstop, said: “The European market represents a significant international growth opportunity for Wingstop and a meaningful next step on our path to becoming a top 10 restaurant brand, meeting both franchisee interest and consumer demand.
“Lemon Pepper Holdings Ltd. has shown that they are very in tune to the type of brand experience the U.K. consumer is looking for, and we are thrilled to have them join the Wingstop family. Rita Sharma is one of the most respected entrepreneurs in Britain and has built a highly successful company from the ground up. We look forward to working with LPH as we serve Europe – and the world – flavor.”
LPH said it would focus its efforts on adapting Wingstop to the UK, paying close attention to customer experience, branding and fit out.