READING, UK — Only eight days after the first Chick-fil-A opened in the UK, the British shopping center where the Atlanta-based restaurant giant has been given the boot.
According to a BBC report, The Oracle Shopping Center in Reading faced pressure from a local LGBTQ rights group, Reading Pride, and said they would not be extending the chain's six-month lease, according to the BBC.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has faced boycotts and criticism across North America in the past for the company's donations to anti-LGBTQ groups as well as public comments by CEO Dan Cathy opposing gay marriage.
The company's controversial past has proven to be a hindrance to growth elsewhere.
In years past, city leaders in Boston, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago have publicly stated that they would actively work to either block or encourage the company not to locate franchises in their cities, with varying degrees of success.
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Students at several colleges and universities have launched efforts to either block or remove Chick-fil-A from their campuses.
Despite these efforts, Chick-fil-A remains the third-largest restaurant company in the United States by sales, behind McDonald's and Starbucks.
In 2018, the chain began its international expansion in Toronto, where it was met with boycotts, but the company plans to continue its expansion in the Toronto area. According to CNBC, they plan to open another 14 locations in the greater Toronto area over the next five years.
"Chick-fil-A is always evaluating potential new locations in the hope of serving customers great food and award-winning service," the company said in a statement to CNBC. "The six-month pilot licensed location in Reading, UK is part of our exploration in international markets."
According to the BBC, the Oracle said, "We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-fil-A to trade with us for the initial six-month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further."
Reading Pride called The Oracle's decision "good news," telling the BBC that six months was a reasonable enough time for employees to find other jobs. But they said they planned to continue to boycott against Chick-fil-A until they leave the shopping center.
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