Taco Bell to take bigger bite of UK market with high street push

Taco Bell is looking to push the brand beyond its US homeland with an expansion drive across the UK and Europe.

Taco Bell is trialling a new restaurant layout that could be extended to all its new stores in Europe.

The fast food maker, which sells a variety of Mexican-inspired items including tacos and burritos, is opening its first high street restaurant in the UK today (25 September). Located in Sheffield, the restaurant hopes to target students at a nearby university through lower price points to rival chains such as McDonald’s and a revamped branding strategy.

Localised marketing encourages consumers to “Get more out of life” by playing up the quality ingredients that make the food as well as the chain’s customer service. Visitors have a view into the “open kitchen” where both team members and ingredients are on display as everything is made to order. Additionally, free Wi-Fi and mobile charging stations will be made accessible to customers.

The restaurant design is the first of its kind globally and should it prove popular it will serve as the template for future stores throughout Europe.

Nick Dawson, general manager for Taco Bell UK and Europe, says: “Over recent years we’ve had fans from numerous cities across the UK requesting a Taco Bell on their high street, and Sheffield was high up on the list of demand.

“As the UK’s fifth largest city, with a huge student population, Sheffield is a great location for Taco Bell and we are proud to be partnering with our franchisee Northgate Fast Foods to add a new flavour to the restaurant options in the city. Customers want choice, and Taco Bell brings something different to the High Street, as well as customers’ taste buds, creating an experience and relationship that goes beyond food.”

The chain’s international expansion chimes with the promotion of Taco Bell’s former marketing chief Brian Niccol to chief executive at the beginning of 2015. He will assume responsibility of the restaurant’s bid to double system sales to $14bn (£8.6bn) by 2022 and opening 2,000 new restaurants, a strategy dependent on growing the business internationally.

Taco Bell owner Yum! generates limited sales from outside the US, which houses the majority of its 6,500 restaurants. Around 250 stores exist outside the region with just three Taco Bell concessions in food courts across the UK.

The business said results for Taco Bell were “mixed” in its latest quarter due to a challenging US market with profits declining 2 per cent year-on-year.

In March, Taco Bell introduced a breakfast menu, its largest menu addition and marketing drive to date, in order to cut into McDonald’s dominance of the meal occasion. Since it launched, the business has said numbers remain “relatively stable” with further additions to the range on the way.