Fast-food franchise Popeyes has returned to China with plans to open over 1,000 stores across the country in the next decade.
Popeyes’ relaunch: Over the weekend, record crowds attended the opening of Popeyes’ new flagship restaurant in downtown Shanghai. The brand, which aims to open 1,700 locations across China, is reportedly under an agreement with Tim Hortons China to re-introduce the Louisiana fried chicken chain to the East Asian country. The restaurant set an opening day record with 1,761 orders.
“We are thrilled to open our first Popeyes restaurant in China, a milestone in our longer-term strategy,” Tims China CEO Yongchen Lu said in a statement, according to CNN. “Despite a challenging overall macroeconomic environment, food service retail sales have been a bright spot in China’s post-Covid recovery — one of the sectors that has rebounded strongly.”
Following the news, shares of Tims China reportedly rose 3.6% in New York. The operator said it would allocate $60 million for the expansion of the Popeyes chain in China over the coming years.
What’s different?: Popeyes’ relaunched menu includes dishes aimed at capturing the Chinese palate, such as seafood burgers, tea-flavored milk shakes, rice and golden cheese and chicken nuggets. The chain also hopes to attract younger customers by building modern storefronts with jazz music and colorful art. In the next quarter, at least nine other Popeyes branches will launch around Shanghai.
China’s first Popeyes restaurant: The U.S. fried chicken chain originally launched in China in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch was followed by the opening of eight more stores in various cities, including Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou. However, the restaurant chain temporarily closed down seven locations by the summer of 2022.
Popeyes, which is famous for its “Louisiana style” fried chicken and chicken sandwiches, was established in New Orleans in 1972 and has more than 3,600 locations globally.