US quick-service restaurant brand Popeyes has signed a master franchise and development agreement with Restaurant Brands Iberia (RB Iberia) to develop the brand in Italy.

The first Italian Popeyes restaurant is expected to open its doors this year, marking a significant step in the brand’s European expansion strategy.

In Europe, the company already has a presence in the Czech Republic, France, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Restaurant Brands International president David Shear stated: “We’re very excited about growing the brand in Italy with RB Iberia, a long-term partner and strong operator.

“We have set ambitious expansion plans for our iconic brand, and today’s news highlights our commitment to serving Popeyes’ bold Louisiana flavours to more guests around the world.”

Restaurant Brands International is the parent company of Popeyes.

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The new location in Italy will serve clients the company’s signature chicken sandwich, spicy chicken, chicken tenders, fried shrimp and other regional offerings.

Restaurant Brands Iberia is the parent entity of master franchisees for Burger King Spain, Burger King Portugal, Popeyes Spain and Tim Hortons Spain.

Restaurant Brands Iberia chairman Gregorio Jiménez said: “We are thrilled to spearhead the launch of Popeyes in Italy. It is an iconic brand that has been well-received in Spain, and we are fully committed to its success within the group.

“Our company excels in managing master franchises, so we have a great business opportunity ahead of us, which will contribute to job creation in Italy and diversify the QSR market for our Mediterranean neighbour.”

In December 2023, Popeyes unveiled its plan to double its UK footprint by opening an additional 30 outlets in 2024.

The brand, which made its UK debut in November 2021, currently has 36 locations, including five drive-throughs and seven delivery kitchens.

By December 2024, Popeyes aims to increase its total number of UK restaurants to more than 60.