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Branded restaurant operators hungry for Leeds

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11 Jul 2016

International real estate advisor Savills has reported that 24 new multiple restaurant brands have opened sites in Leeds over the last four years, with the total rising by 209% to 46 from 22 in 2012.  Led by new entrants including Bill’s, Gusto and Turtle Bay, the number of units occupied by branded restaurants has more than doubled from 25 to 52 during that time.

The recent Casual Dining in the UK report from Savills showed that Leeds now has the second highest total supply of branded casual dining restaurants of any place outside of London (only Manchester has more with 78).  Additionally, York ranked 19th in the UK’s top 50 casual dining towns in terms of supply, with 23 branded restaurants.  Harrogate was also among the top 50 towns for best casual dining growth story since 2012.

Steve Henderson, retail director at Savills, comments: “The casual dining scene in Leeds has swung from mass market to aspirational, with Busaba Eathai, Friends of Ham, Steve Pilling’s Dockyard, tapas bar 53 Degrees North and renowned chefs including Marco Pierre White all due to open in the city over the next 12 months.  While mass market brands still have their place and perform well, consumers are consistently seeking something different which will drive further growth in branded restaurants in Leeds as well as Yorkshire’s other big towns and cities for the foreseeable future.” 

Although Italian food and pizza remain the most numerous and popular of casual dining cuisines in the UK, accounting for 45% of branded restaurants nationally, Savills reports that most of these offerings originate from pre-2008.  Since then, there has been a clear shift in trends towards North American, burger and barbecue or steak restaurants, with increases of 80%, 71% and 52% respectively since the financial crisis.

Tom Whittington, retail research director at Savills, adds: “The type of casual dining brand expanding rapidly into Leeds has commanded the highest growth in volume of visits and spend per visit of all restaurant types in the UK over the last four to five years.  There is also an ongoing cultural shift in the kinds of food and experience that are sought when dining out, with consumers seeking more aspirational eating choices and a greater range of culinary styles.  As a result, Caribbean, Thai and Mexican brands have all expanded rapidly in the UK since 2012.”