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Chick-fil-A opened its first location in United Kingdom and it will be closing in six months because almost immediately after opening, the mall decided to trade with Chick-fil-A only for the initial pilot period. The Oracle shopping mall in Reading, England entered into a six-month pilot period with the American fast food chain, but less than 10 days after the restaurant's grand opening they decided not to extend their lease further.
“At the Oracle, we offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome,” said a spokesperson for The Oracle in a statement to TIME. “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, a local LGBT advocacy group, reacted to Chick-fil-A opening in the UK by planning a protest against the mall. “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 for some years, and continues to strive towards equality,” said organization in a public statement, as Time reports. After the Oracle decided not to extend the lease, Reading Pride noted that their decision was a good one and this six months period gives employees time to find other jobs. Anyway human rights groups are planning daily protests against the outlet until it closes.
Chick-fil-A's owners have donated to anti-LGBTQ organizations so new locations often inspire protests in the United States — and the same thing happened in U.K. The fast-food chain has donated well over a million dollars through its foundation to groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and The Salvation Army. Those groups are known for their anti-LGBTQ policies and the company decided to donate to them; not to some other religious groups.
The company's actions and their donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations are probably the reason why The Oracle decided not to extend their lease, but a Chick-fil-A spokerperson said that that was the company's plan from beginning. “We have been very pleased with what we’ve seen in the U.K. in terms of customer response to our food and our approach to customer service,” a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A said in a statement to TIME. “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.”