The restaurant market remains bullish, with multiple operators looking to snap up some 300 more sites over the next 12 months, according to the Fleurets Annual Survey.
Over 27,000 prospective restaurant buyers have signed up to Fleurets, with chains Prezzo, Pizza Express, Café Rouge and Nando's particularly keen to expand. The average size of a site is now 3,500 sq ft which houses around 120 covers.
Unsurprisingly there is a strong demand for central London sites, whose rental prices now average £1,000 to £1,500 per cover rising to £2,500 in some prime sites.
By comparison, the Home Counties' average rates are £550-1,000 per cover, which has led to more restaurateurs looking for less expensive sites outside central London.
Fleurets predicts that once the smoking ban takes effect in the industry, pub owners will be keen to stem any loss of profits by upping their food game and making the eating out market even more competitive.