Large Canadian Chain Mary Brown’s Chicken Kicks Off International Franchise Push 

Mary Brown’s Chicken has grown to 257 locations in Canada since its founding in Newfoundland in 1969.  

Mary Brown’s Chicken, the popular quick-serve restaurant chain in Canada, is making a big international push this year after a five-decade run in its home country. 

The company, which has grown to 257 locations in Canada since its founding in Newfoundland in 1969, opened its first European location in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in February. Mary Brown’s is also eyeing restaurant openings in Merida, Yucatan, in Mexico starting in May or June and its first London location opening this summer. Franchising as MB Chicken internationally, the company also has signed master agreements with restaurant groups in Pakistan and India with plans to open multiple locations in the two Asian countries later this year. 

International expansion has been in the plans for some time now, but we wanted to first line up things and make sure we partner with the right people,” said Dylan Powell, vice president of international development at Mary Brown’s Chicken.  

Multi-unit franchisee Amit Abhol of Reena Group leads MB Chicken’s development in Northern Ireland, Powell said, with the chicken brand an addition to his 21-unit Papa Johns portfolio. Mohammad Shazad Khan of West London Foods, which operates 30 German Doner Kebab stores, will introduce the brand in London. The franchisees agreed to open at least three or four MB Chicken restaurants in their markets.   

“We expect four restaurants in Northern Ireland, but think it can easily take 20 there over the long term,” Powell said. 

BPT Group, operators of several food concepts including Boston Pizza, Sushi Roll and Santa Clara, agreed to open three Mary Brown’s in Mexico, and F&B Limited, the master franchisee for Second Cup Pakistan, agreed to open three Mary Brown’s starting in the second half of the year. 

IRFM Brands Limited, led by master franchisee Punjabi Chapp Comer, agreed to open five locations in Punjab, India, sometime between the end of the year and early 2025, said Powell. 

“It’s exciting to see this international development finally getting going,” Powell said. “Mary Brown’s has been a part of the Canadian fabric for a long time now, but other than one other attempt to get into Turkey a few years ago, we have not really ventured outside of Canada until now.” 

With 17 consecutive years of same-stores growth and systemwide sales of $310 million, Mary Brown’s positions itself as the “the largest Canadian-owned quick-serve chicken restaurant.” Powell said same-store sales increased by 4.3 percent and in-store transactions increased by 12.1 percent in 2023. Average unit volume was $1.3 million in 2023, and the Lisburn location in Northern Ireland is averaging about £30,000 in sales per week, or the equivalent of about $37,125 in U.S. dollars. 

The company opened 26 stores last year in Canada after adding 33 in 2022 and 19 in 2021, said Powell. He noted Mary Brown’s has no plans to break into the U.S. market at this time, given the oversaturation of QSR chicken concepts in the country, but does believe there is still room for growth in Canada. “We are very popular here in Canada because people know we serve fresh farm-raised chicken and taters prepared from scratch with our proprietary cookers that eliminate a lot of the grease you get from the other brands,” he said. 

Interestingly, finding the right kind of potatoes to launch operations in Northern Ireland was not as easy as one might think, Powell said. The company tested a number of different varieties of Irish-grown potatoes before landing on one that had the right combination of sugars and starches to make the company’s taters. 

“It is very important that we maintain the standard of our food overseas,” he said, “and the restaurant operators we selected to partner with for international development have the experience and local knowledge to do it.” 

The cost to open a Mary Brown’s location starts at $840,000. The company offers five store models, from kiosks in non-traditional locations like airports and sports arenas to full-size restaurants that feature indoor seating, drive-thru and pick-up. Those options range in size from 600 to 3,200 square feet. Powell said the restaurants in Mexico and Pakistan will be larger 4,000- and 5,000-square foot spaces, respectively, with rooftop seating likely at the first Lahore location in Pakistan. 

Source: FranchiseTimes 

Subscribe and stay on top of the latest franchise news!