Chick-fil-A’s first UK location will close after pressure from LGBTQ rights group

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French fries and a fried chicken sandwich are arranged for a photograph at a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chick-fil-A opened its first location in the United Kingdom in early October.

A little more than a week later, the British shopping center leasing the location has already said it will not extend the restaurant’s six-month lease, BBC reported Friday.

The Oracle shopping center in Reading faced pressure from a local LGBTQ rights group, Reading Pride, according to the BBC.

The Atlanta-based company has faced criticism and boycotts for its past donations to anti-LGBTQ groups and CEO Dan Cathy’s public comments opposing gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A’s controversial past has slowed its rapid expansion previously. In April, the company lost out on two potentially lucrative airport contracts in the U.S. after local politicians raised concerns over the company’s anti-LGBTQ history.

Still, the chicken chain is the third-largest U.S. restaurant company by sales, just behind McDonald’s and Starbucks. Chick-fil-A is trying to catch up with its competition by expanding outside of its stronghold in the Southeast. In 2018, it announced plans to open its first international location in Toronto, with at least 14 more locations planned in the greater Toronto area in the next five years.

A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told CNBC in a statement: “Chick-fil-A is always evaluating potential new locations in the hope of serving customers great food and award winning service. This six month pilot licensed location in Reading, UK is part of our exploration in international markets.”

The Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Read more about the shopping center’s decision not to extend Chick-fil-A’s lease here.



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