As sales have slowed for the restaurant industry in the U.S., Taco Bell is investing elsewhere to drum up that double digit same-store sales growth.
— Erika Adams
Taco Bell is finally opening its doors in London, one of the chain’s most-requested international expansion markets.
The fast food chain announced several restaurant openings around the London area as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen its international presence, starting with a new Hammersmith location slated to open on November 23. Three more locations around London will follow, starting with a Holborn location in the next week and locations in Croydon and Fulham shortly after. Taco Bell already operates 28 locations across the U.K.
“We’ve had our sights set on London for quite some time and as we continue growing internationally, we’re excited to bring Taco Bell to one of the world’s largest cities and one of our most-requested markets,” Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International, said in a statement. “We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response to our U.K. restaurants, and have ambitious plans for growth in London and the broader U.K., targeting more than 30 U.K. restaurants by the end of the year.”
True to form, Taco Bell’s launch in London included an over-the-top marketing stunt to attract customers to the new stores. To drive attention to the brand, Taco Bell recreated Big Ben’s Westminster chimes using audio from the brand’s own bells to stand in for a day. (The actual clock has been under construction for over a year.)
Inside London’s new locations, the restaurants will look similar to Taco Bell’s updated U.S. counterparts: open-kitchen concepts, artwork from local artists, modern interior designs. The menu will include both Taco Bell’s U.S. staples and a few U.K.-specific additions, including churros, alcoholic slushies, and beer.
Taco Bell’s International Growth
Taco Bell has a growing international presence, including locations in India, Spain, Brazil, the Philippines, Canada, and Guatemala. (At 57 locations, Guatemala is Taco Bell’s largest international market.) The company opened 34 new international units in the first three quarters of 2018.
Same-store sales growth in Canada was up 11 percent year-to-date by the end of the third quarter this year; in India, the same metric was up by 10 percent. In the U.S. (a much more mature market for Taco Bell), same store sales were up by 3 percent year-to-date. Taco Bell’s franchisees in Spain and Brazil have committed to opening more than 400 new locations over the next decade.
“Internationally, this is only the beginning for Taco Bell, and I’m excited to see the brand grow and expand,” parent company Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed said on the company’s most recent earnings call.