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KFC looks to rapidly grow urban presence in UK

Global fast food brand KFC is planning to open as many as 70 urban "small box" formats across the UK to reach new audiences, as it focuses on city centres, train stations and universities as a major growth opportunity.

Tapping into new opportunities to reach commuters, students and the lunchtime crowd, the chicken chain has already opened its new store design in Newcastle, and rolled out urban stores in places including London’s Mile End, London Bridge station and Wimbledon.  

These stores have seen “double” the expected growth, said Jade Swaby, creative and design manager at KFC, at a presentation at Retail Design Expo. 

The smaller urban formats have been designed to seat between 0 – 40 people in spaces between 1000 and 3000 sq ft. Importantly, the design is flexible to fit in with local surroundings, said Swaby. “We want to feel like we gel with the community, so we always include a local flavour – the design is 80% KFC and 20% flexible.”

The new design extends beyond the exterior and interior of the stores. Menus have been revamped to appeal to the lunch-time crowd, with the introduction of burritos and salads. An additional menu board has been added to the wall that can be seen as people enter the fast-food chain so customers can peruse the menu before reaching the serving counter.

“Customer journey experience research showed that [having to approach the counter to view the menu] was one of the things that frustrates customers the most,” said Swaby. Adding an additional menu has led to a wider variety of food items being purchased as people feel less pressure to make a quick decision.

The major design challenge was updating the “plastic” feel to a more modern, gritty urban look without losing the heritage of the brand, explained Swaby. Materials such as wooden cladding on the fascia and patterned plywood on the interior have been used to create a modern feel, while the famous Colonel Sanders brand icon has been maintained as a “brand beacon”. The brand’s signature red runs throughout the exterior and interior but has been toned down from previous designs to create a more sophisticated store environment.