Fast-food restaurant franchise Popeyes will be returning to South Korea next month after a nearly two-year hiatus.
The U.S. fried chicken chain originally launched in the nation in 1994 and operated for 26 years under TS Corporation with over 200 locations. Due to financial difficulties and low sales, the chain reduced its operation to 10 locations before shutting down in 2020.
Next month, the company is set to open its first new location by Gangnam Station in southern Seoul, according to Popeyes South Korea’s operator NLC, which is owned by Silla Group. The store will begin its employee training on Monday next week.
With the goal of opening hundreds of stores in the coming years, the company secured the franchise rights from Popeye’s owner Restaurant Brands International in March.
“Chicken is one of the largest and fastest-growing categories in the South Korean QSR segment,” MoonKyung Lee, senior managing director at Silla Group’s F&B Division, said. “Popeyes is an exciting addition to the Silla Group’s F&B portfolio and is expected to become one of the key drivers of growth for us. It will also contribute significantly to the economy by creating hundreds of new jobs over the coming years.”
The fast-food market of South Korea is reportedly experiencing a heated “burger race,” as fast-food franchises such as McDonald’s, Shake Shack, No Brand Burger, Gordon Ramsay Burger, Five Guys and Lotteria compete in the industry, reported The Korea Herald. Popeyes will soon be the market’s latest competitor.
“The growth of South Korea’s burger market can be attributed to the Westernization of the Korean people’s palette,” Lee Eun-hee, a professor at Inha University, told The Korea Herald. “The demand for animal protein is going up, but steak and other meats are expensive, so people look for alternatives.”
Popeyes, which is famous for their “Louisiana-style” fried chicken and chicken sandwiches, was established in New Orleans in 1972 and has more than 3,600 locations globally.