Chick-fil-A is to close its first branch in the UK after LGBT campaigners launched protests and boycott calls because of its owners’ record of donating to organisations against same-sex marriage.
The short-lived expansion into the UK was in a Reading shopping centre, about 30 minutes outside of London by train.
2,500 US outlets
The fast-food chain, which has almost 2,500 outlets in the US, was no doubt hoping to capitalise on the popularity of fried chicken shops in the UK, particularly in the south-east.
But it hadn’t counted on the opposition to the owners’ stance on homosexuality. They have made donations to Christian groups opposed to same-sex relationships and even organisations that offered “conversion therapy”.
In 2012, Chick-fil-A’s chief executive, Dan Cathy, said: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”
UK landlords would not extend initial lease
Just 8 days after the chain opened its first branch, the landlords of the shopping centre it was housed in announced they would not extend the initial 6-month lease.
Reading Pride, which coordinated the majority of protests at the branch, said it would continue to demonstrate outside the store until it closed.