Social governance | A corporate ethics backlash made Chick-fil-A pull out of the UK - now they're back

A corporate ethics backlash made Chick-fil-A pull out of the UK - now they're back

Chick-fil-A, the American fast-food giant known for its chicken sandwiches, is gearing up for a second attempt at entering the UK market after facing protests and controversy in its initial venture in 2019.

This time, the company is emphasising a transformation in its corporate ethics as it aims to open five restaurants in the UK, with the first set to launch in early 2025.

In 2019, Chick-fil-A's foray into the UK faced significant backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters due to the founders' historical support for Christian groups that opposed same-sex marriage.

This controversy led to boycotts and protests, forcing the company to abandon its plans at that time.

Read more from us

However, Chick-fil-A has since allegedly undergone an evolution in its corporate values and policies.

One key change is the appointment of its first-ever head of diversity in 2020, signalling a commitment to seemingly fostering a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

The company has also reportedly adjusted its approach to charitable giving, with a focus on education and hunger alleviation, rather than supporting controversial organisations.

Despite these changes, Chick-fil-A maintains its long-standing policy of keeping its restaurants closed on Sundays, in adherence to its founder’s Christian values.

This practice will also extend to its UK locations.

In response to the controversies surrounding the company’s ethics and values, Joanna Symonds, Chick-fil-A's Head of UK Operations, said that the company had a ‘commitment to positively influencing communities’

"From our earliest days, we've worked to positively influence the places we call home and this will be the same for our stores in the UK," she told the BBC.

"We encourage our operators to partner with organisations which support and positively impact their local communities, delivering great food and wider benefits to those around them."

Chick-fil-A revealed that it plans to invest over $100million in the UK over the next decade. Most of the restaurants will be operated as franchises, creating between 80 and 120 jobs per branch.

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.