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Armagh features on McDonald’s expansion radar

McDonald’s has now included Armagh on its wish list for new restaurants as part of its major expansion plans across the UK announced last year, Armagh I can reveal.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest chain of fast service restaurants, is currently planning to create up to 400 drive-thru restaurants across the UK over the next 10 years.

Originally, the plans had focused on the mainland.

But the company has appointed seven representatives to actively seek out fresh locations across England, Scotland and Wales – and now Northern Ireland.

Armagh is one of 11 locations which McDonalds has set its sights on for a new drive-thru restaurant.

And while no location has been identified yet, the company is actively looking for franchisees and suitable sites.

It is also hoping to acquire a site in Banbridge, with expansion plans too in Derry/Londonderry, Holywood, Larne, Bangor, Antrim, Belfast, Enniskillen, Lisburn and Strabane.

The company has previously expressed an interest in opening in Armagh but suitable and agreeable locations failed to materialise.

But the opening of a new McDonald’s driv-thru would be a welcome addition to a city which lost the Burger King outlet at the Mall West Shopping Centre almost two years ago.

It currently only has one drive-thru restaurant, KFC, at Lonsdale Road.

Armagh I can reveal that McDonald’s had previously been interested in a site at the Spires Retail Park, off the Moy Road.

It is now hoped that, subject to a franchisee being found with a suitable location, Armagh will finally see McDonald’s coming on board.

The chain already has restaurants in surrounding towns and cities, including at the Damolly Retail Park in Newry, at Meadow Lane in Portadown, Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon, the Oaks Shopping Centre in Dungannon, and at Edward Street in Lurgan.

The expansion plan by the company is for the next 10 years and McDonald’s is now proactively sourcing sites, with the intention of opening 40 new driv-thru restaurants a year over that time.

According to McDonalds: “One of the cornerstones of McDonald’s success in the UK is its property portfolio, which provides a well located and convenient network of restaurants throughout the country for our customers to use and enjoy. mcdonalds

“There are almost 1200 restaurants to be found in a variety of locations, such as traditional high streets, shopping centres, retail parks, roadside locations, leisure centres, railway and airport termini and motorway service areas.

“We are renowned for being the pioneers of the drive-thru restaurant concept and are the UK and world leader in this sector. This continues to be the key focus for our growth.”

Due to the growing success of the company, the intention is to increase the pace of acquisitions with a target of 40 new restaurant openings a year, which will create up to 2,400 new job opportunities annually.

McDonald’s says the primary vehicle for this expansion will be freestanding drive-thru restaurants, where convenience is key or locations in new or existing retail and leisure parks and transport hubs.

For potential franchisees, all leases are taken in the name of McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd over a 25 year period.

The company says it will consider all opportunities – standalone units/leasehold or freehold – on sites up to one acre, and it would look at all possibilities, even including co-location opportunities with hotels and petrol stations.

McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in the UK in 1974 and now has over 1,200 outlets in communities throughout the UK.

The expansion plan coincides with the confirmation by McDonald’s UK in February that it had promoted Chief Financial Officer, Paul Pomroy, to Managing Director of McDonald’s UK.

He said: “I am really looking forward to the opportunities we have ahead and to build on the strong and sustained performance of McDonald’s in the UK.”

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