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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has roots in New Orleans and its chicken is part of many Mardi Gras parade parties.

Popeyes said it has reached a non-binding agreement with a private equity firm to open restaurants across China, continuing the iconic fried chicken chain's international growth.

The deal with Cartesian Capital Group is subject to due diligence and approval of both parties. Peter Yu, managing partner of Cartesian, said in a statement the agreement builds upon a 10-year relationship the firm has with Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Popeyes, Burger King, Firehouse Subs and Tim Hortons. Cartesian has developed more than 450 Tim Hortons coffee shops in China.

"We are proud to grow the Popeyes brand in China and to bring its famous chicken sandwich and iconic products to guests in this exceptionally dynamic market," Yu said.

Popeyes opened its first Chinese restaurant in May 2020, according to Global Times, an English language Chinese newspaper. At the time, the company said it had plans to open 1,500 restaurants across China over a 10-year-period. In comparison, Popeyes currently has more than 3,850 locations worldwide. But the newspaper reported seven Popeyes restaurants recently closed, leaving two stores in Shanghai. 

The Chinese fried chicken market is dominated by KFC, which has been in the country for decades. There are more than 8,500 KFC restaurants in China and plans are in the works to open 800 more locations this year, according to Restaurant Business

Popeyes is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While the chain plans to open 200 locations in the U.S. and Canada this year, there's also a focus on growth further away.

The first Popeyes in India opened in January and the company will open its first restaurants in France and Romania later this year. Popeyes will also re-enter South Korea after being out of the market since 2020 and will continue to open restaurants in countries such as the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Philippines, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.