The location will close after just six months.
Protests of Chick-fil-A have occurred in waves over the years. In 2012, the company's chairman and chief executive, Dan T. Cathy, said that the fast food chain believed in the "biblical definition of the family unit." Chick-fil-A's foundation had also donated money to groups in the United States that aimed to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. The company has been marred by an association with homophobia ever since and this may be the reason behind the rapid closing of its first U.K. restaurant.
The Southern chicken chain opened its first U.K. location in The Oracle shopping mall on October 10. Protests by activists flared up immediately, primarily led by Reading Pride, an LGBTQ advocacy group. “We are staunchly opposed to Chick-fil-A setting up shop in the UK and certainly in Reading,” the group said in a statement on Twitter. “The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country” that has legalized same-sex marriage and “continues to strive toward equality.”
The Oracle's management decided to support the boycott, announcing that it would not allow Chick-fil-A to stay beyond its “initial six-month pilot period,” as that was the “right thing to do.” However, the company is claiming that The Oracle location was intended to be short-lived anyway and that the protests were not negatively impacting their sales. “We have been very pleased with the lines since opening Oct. 10 and are grateful for customer response to our food and our approach to customer service,” the company said on Saturday. “We mutually agreed to a six-month lease with the Oracle Mall in Reading as part of a longer term strategy for us as we look to expand our international presence.”