Could Wendy's be opening in Norfolk next year?
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A US burger chain has refused to rule out opening a site in Norfolk amid rapid expansion plans on UK shores.
Wendy's has announced plans to relaunch its brand on this side of the Atlantic after the success of five recently opened restaurants in Reading, Stratford, Oxford, Croydon and Romford.
Bosses said they hope to launch a further 50 sites across the country next year.
Abigail Pringle, Wendy's chief development officer, said: “We've seen incredible success that outperformed our expectations, and it’s clear to us that customers are loving our fresh, high-quality food.”
And although Wendy's said that it cannot confirm if it will be opening any sites in Norfolk as of yet it is not outside the realm of possibility.
Paul Hilder, Wendy’s managing director for the UK and Canada, said: “We’re in the final stages of discussions with two traditional franchise partners who will help the brand cross the Midlands and the north of England, and we have a very strong pipeline of franchise candidates beyond that.”
However, according to Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Norwich-based Centre for Retail Research, it would be unlikely that Norfolk will be the chain's main priority.
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Professor Bamfield said: "There are many fast food outlets around at the moment serving burgers, so there is a lot of competition. Although with Wendy's been a very successful American chain, it could do well opening sites in Norfolk.
"However, my feeling would be that Norfolk wouldn't be its first priority. I'd have thought they'd go to the big metropolitan areas first and open up a small number of restaurants in bigger cities. This will make it easier for them to get established.
"Cambridge would be a likely staging place in East Anglia and they may expand into Norwich a few months after."
The announcement by Wendy's comes as a number of foreign businesses have suggested plans for expansion in the country, such as Lidl, who plans a £1.3bn expansion that includes 12 new sites in Norfolk and Waveney.
Professor Bamfield added: "We are moving into an interesting period where successful businesses with lots of money are moving into the UK and rolling out their systems across the country.
"We'll have to see what happens but it is unlikely it will mean curtains for other burger restaurants."