Good News For Wendy's Fans In The UK

It's been decades, but Wendy's has officially started its return to British markets. On February 12, a spokesperson for Wendy's confirmed for Big Hospitality that it will open its first restaurants in Reading and Oxford while also exploring opportunities in the London area.

This serves as a second more official announcement of Wendy's big return to the UK. Already in July 2020, the BBC reported that Wendy's had chosen Reading as its starting location due to its position as a transportation hub. Before that, it was already clear that Wendy's had set their eyes to return after their initial departure from the UK back in 2000. In 2017, they hosted a four-hour-long pop-up store in London, as Hot Dinners covered at the time. "If you like it," the promo for the event promised, "we may be back, permanently. So be sure to let us know what you think."

The opening of this Wendy's franchise, then, comes not as a shock but as a long-planned comeback. So, what kept the home of the Frosty and baked potato away for so long?

Brexit has enabled Wendy's return

When Wendy's originally sold and leased 10 of its British franchise locations to McDonald's for millions of dollars in 2000, they cited the high operating costs. At the time, The Caterer also noted that Wendy's still owned 40 restaurants in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

While such costs may have been the reason that Wendy's left the European market, another big factor might have been that a Dutch restaurant had trademarked the name Wendy's in 1995. According to a 2018 article in Gourmandize, the European-wide trademark stopped Wendy's from opening any location called Wendy's in the EU, including in the UK. Wendy's has tried to win the legal battle but the Dutch courts have consistently sided with the Dutch restaurant.

However, with Brexit realized, the UK has pulled out of the EU, meaning that the Dutch trademark no longer applies to Wendy's. That's why Wendy's is now allowed to make a full return to the UK as the fast-food touchstone that consumers in the Americas and Asia have come to recognize.