|Customers eat sandwiches at a Popeyes restaurant in Seoul in this 2013 file photo. / Korea times file|
By Kim Jae-heun
American fried chicken restaurant chain Popeyes is closing down its operations in Korea after failing to find a buyer, the food operator said Friday.
TS Food & System, a subsidiary of TS Corporation that operates Popeyes in Korea, confirmed that it will terminate the licensing contract it signed with the American headquarters within this month. Popeyes opened its first restaurant in the posh district of Apgujeong in Seoul, in 1994.
By riding on the popularity of its Cajun fries, the chicken restaurant chain operator expanded its business across the country, operating over 200 branches at its heyday.
However, hit by the flurry of new entrants to the market which offer products comparable to Popeyes from various points such as taste, in addition to affordable prices, the chain saw a decline in sales. The number of outlets decreased to 10 by last year.
In 2019, TS Food & System's sales were 12.4 billion won and it reported a 1.2 billion won operating loss throughout the year. The firm attempted to recover its declining brand value by restructuring restaurants' business management.
TS Food & System also approached potential candidates to take over its license to sell Popeyes. SPC Group, which operates international fast food chains Shake Shack and Eggslut, was one of the candidates approached but it declined to take over the license, according to sources.
"We have been attempting to sell the Popeyes brand following the decline in sales but we failed to do so. Amid the spread of COVID-19, we decided to close down," a TS Food & System official said.