Wingstop has become a minority investor in its franchised United Kingdom operations, the fast-casual wing chain announced Tuesday.
The overseas business is run by U.K. franchisee Lemon Pepper Holdings Ltd., which entered into a 100-restaurant agreement with Wingstop in 2017 as the sole operator in that market.
Details of Wingstop’s investment were not disclosed.
Lemon Pepper Holdings (LPH) opened its first restaurant in London and has since expanded to a variety of locations, including shopping malls and ghost kitchens.
The group performed well during the pandemic, recording its highest sales growth in 2020 and opening seven new restaurants despite rolling lockdowns across the country. It opened its first restaurant outside of London last month and has plans to open several more this year.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Lemon Pepper team as they grow their brand presence in the U.K., a market with tremendous long-term potential,” Wingstop CFO Michael Skipworth said in a statement. “We believe this strategic use of our capital will strengthen the development pipeline in that market, and I am excited to join the Lemon Pepper Holdings Board of Directors and play a role in helping achieve the potential for the Wingstop brand in the U.K.”
Wingstop’s U.S. business has been nearly unstoppable during the pandemic. At a time when many chains were floundering, it recorded 33% same-store sales growth in April 2020. And, this April, Wingstop bested those numbers.
The Dallas-based chain has had a long-stated goal of becoming a major global brand. It recently announced a new development agreement in Canada, and it is eyeing markets in China and across Europe.
Last month, Wingstop revealed a multi-year initiative to create a global tech platform as it works to expand its international business. The chain, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, is investing $10 million this year in the work, which will include software development, hiring and more, to allow the brand to scale globally.
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