Chipotle yet to fire in the UK
27 February, 2013
Mexican food has been among the hottest trends in the UK over the last few years—but US brand Chipotle has been taking a while to bed down here.
Bloomberg reports news from a recent Chipotle earnings call that suggested “that Londoners have been slow to warm to its oversized burritos and that awareness of the brand has remained low in the three years since Chipotle arrived.”
Chipotle has continued to expand fast in the US, but its 12 international locations, including a first for Germany this year, have been less of a hit. “Gourmet burritos and tacos, aka American-style Mexican food, seems to have less allure in the UK than good old burgers and pizza do.”
Bloomberg claims Mexican food has long struggled in the UK, noting the withdrawal in the 1990s of Chipotle’s fellow US brand Taco Bell—though that has now returned. And some Britons are still getting used to the Mexican way of eating, says Brandon Stephens of Tortilla.
But Tortilla and many others like Wahaca are thriving, so the issue for Chipotle may be more to do with branding. Chipotle’s research suggests only 1% of people are aware of its name without prompting, and it has now decided to up its marketing activity. Co-chief executive Steve Ells said: “It looks likely that London will be a developing market for a while, until our awareness is raised there.” Pricing could also be an issue, with Chipotle fairly expensive compared to its fast casual rivals.
For the full story, see Why Chipotle sales lag in London.