McDonald’s will not return to the Ashford Designer Outlet when the shopping centre’s multimillion-pound extension opens next year, it has been confirmed.
The fast-food giant was scheduled to form part of the site’s £90m expansion in the spring with a new 200-seat standalone site.
But bosses have decided not to return amid suggestions they did not want to pay a higher rent proposed by outlet chiefs.
McDonald’s had formed part of the shopping centre’s former food court for years, but closed in January to make way for the expansion.
Franchisee Paul Crocker previously said the chain was looking forward to returning to the outlet.
He said in January: “We will have a new unit - it will be about 40% bigger than the old one and we will be part of the redevelopment.
“We are looking forward to our new restaurant because it will be heated rather than our old place which could only be described as a wind tunnel.
“The food court had no solid roof – the wind came in between the gaps and we had staff wearing jumpers and gloves in there because it had been so cold.”
But Designer Outlet manager Peter Corr confirmed McDonald’s is not returning.
He said: “The McDonald’s franchise was set to return to the Designer Outlet next year on similar terms for a new, larger space in our food piazza.
“However, unfortunately the group has recently decided not to re-join the centre, which we understand will be disappointing for some of our shoppers.
“We would like to thank the McDonald’s team for their partnership over the years.
“While works are being completed on the new phase, customers are still able to enjoy a wide range of food brands, from Pizza Express and Wagamama to local independent eateries such as Lost Sheep Coffee.”
A McDonald’s spokesman confirmed the chain has no current plans to move back to the outlet but did not comment on suggestions the decision was based on a rent increase.
He added the chain does still have three stores in the town, in the High Street, Eureka Park and Orbital Park.
The Designer Outlet extension is set to add a further 50 units to the centre, with the new flagship shop in the extension being the only unit to be two storeys high.
It will also include a new car park with an additional 725 parking spaces and is expected to create 500 new jobs.
Part of the tented structure has already been removed and the extension is due to open in autumn next year.