Chick-fil-A six-month lease at Oracle will not be extended

18 October 2019

Chick-fil-A newly opened site at the Oracle Centre will not have its initial lease extended.

The fast-food chain will cease trading at its first UK outlet amid a row over donations to anti-LGBT groups.

Gay rights campaigners called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, which opened its first branch at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading last Thursday (10th October).

A spokeswoman for the centre said "the right thing to do" was to not extend the restaurant's lease beyond the "six-month pilot period".

A Chick-fil-A spokesperson confirmed the six month pilot was always part of its strategy to test a location in the UK.

The company has previously said it has no “social or political agenda” and welcomes everyone.

Chick-fil-A said its donations were purely focused on youth and education.

The family-owned company, founded in Atlanta in 1967, is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the USA and boasts about 2,400 outlets across North America.

According to US news website Think Progress, in 2017 the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated millions of dollars to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army.

Campaigners from LGBT organisation, Reading Pride, said all three organisations have a reputation of being hostile to LGBT rights.

In 2012, the company's chairman sparked a US boycott when he said he opposed gay marriage.

The Oracle said in a statement: "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 said The Oracle's decision was "good news", adding the six-month period was a "reasonable request... to allow for re-settlement and notice for employees that have moved from other jobs". They will also continue with a protest at the site on Saturday.

The statement on the group's Facebook page said: "In conversation with The Oracle, we have been told that Chick-Fil-A will not trade beyond its current 6 month pilot period.

"The Oracle Management have also stated they will review their selection process and ensure a more thorough check is in place.

"Reading Pride has offered to be a consultant on any potential issues that may be uncovered around LGBT+ matters.

"The reason for allowing them to remain for 6 months is to allow for re-settlement and notice for employees that have moved from other jobs.

"We feel this is a reasonable request.

"However, as the restaurant will be profiting from unsuspecting patrons, we will continue with the protest on Saturday, to advise where their money could go.

"We hope to see as many supporters of the cause at the protest"


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