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Chick-fil-A's journey towards inclusivity and culinary success in the UK

The UK market has long been a coveted destination for American food brands, and despite the protests faced during its initial entry in 2019, Chick-fil-A is now gearing up for a second attempt.

In today's rapidly evolving world, supporting equality, diversity, and inclusion is no longer a mere choice; it has become an imperative for businesses. Chick-fil-A learned this lesson through the controversy surrounding its founders' support for Christian groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

The repercussions of failing to demonstrate a steadfast commitment to equality can be severe, as businesses risk not only losing customers but also struggling to attract and retain talented staff. Additionally, a workforce that does not accurately mirror the diverse society in which it operates may hinder a company's ability to understand and connect with its customer base.

Acknowledging the need for change, Chick-fil-A took a significant step forward by appointing its first head of diversity in 2020. The company has also re-evaluated its approach to charitable giving, with a renewed focus on education and hunger alleviation.

While these measures are commendable, it is crucial for Chick-fil-A to go beyond surface-level changes and foster an inclusive culture that actively supports all members of the community it serves. By embracing diversity and inclusion throughout its operations, the company can create an environment that attracts and retains top talent, enhances its understanding of customer needs, and ultimately drives sustainable growth.

In other words, businesses that prioritise these values are better positioned to thrive, connect with diverse consumer bases, and create a positive impact within their communities.

Chick-fil-A's decision to embark on a fresh endeavour in the UK market is an important reminder about the importance of embracing equality, diversity, and inclusion. It also highlights the UK's undeniable appeal to international food brands seeking to establish a foothold.

This should come as no surprise. The UK has a large and diverse consumer base with a strong appetite for international cuisine which provides a significant market opportunity for food brands looking to expand their reach. The UK also has a robust and well-established food industry infrastructure, including a wide distribution network, well-regulated food safety standards, and a competitive market that encourages innovation and quality.

In addition to a supportive business environment with access to skilled talent, and opportunities for growth and expansion, there’s also already a familiarity and curiosity among UK consumers towards American food and culture, which can help drive initial interest and engagement.

Chick-fil-A will certainly continue to have an interesting journey into the UK. It will be interesting to see whether from adversity, it can turn things around and replicate its international success in the UK.

How we can help

To support our clients on their journey to becoming more responsible businesses, Irwin Mitchell provides training in all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion. We also provide support through our ESG advisory service which brings together 80 service lines.

To help businesses looking to invest in the UK, Irwin Mitchell has conducted extensive research on foreign direct investment trends, including the identification of the most attractive locations for businesses.

An American fast food chain met with protests from the gay community last time it opened in the UK is planning to have another go.

Chick-Fil-A aims to open five restaurants in the UK.

The sites have not yet been chosen, but the first will open in early 2025.

Its previous foray into the UK market in 2019 faced a boycott over its founders' support for Christian groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

The firm is still run by the Cathy family which founded it, but has made a policy change in recent years.

It appointed its first head of diversity in 2020 and has changed its approach to charitable giving, focusing on education and hunger alleviation.”