Northern restaurant chains confident despite tough trading conditions

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Types of restaurants, Buffet, Restaurant magazine

Jamie's Italian is looking to expand into Newcastle - the city deemed to be most badly affected by spending cuts
Jamie's Italian is looking to expand into Newcastle - the city deemed to be most badly affected by spending cuts
Most restaurant chain operators are confident that northern UK cities still offer growth potential, despite trading conditions remaining tough in the region.

Consumer behaviour in the restaurant market in the north and south of England is converging rather than diverging, according to Allegra Strategies’ latest Eating Out in the UK 2011 report, although trading conditions remain tough across many northern parts of the country.

The report, released in July this year, shows that northerners are less likely to eat out multiple times each week than their southern counterparts – 15 per cent compared with 20 per cent at lunch, north to south, and 6 per cent compared with 9 per cent at dinner.

Average spend on lunch in the north is also lower, at £6.65, compared with £7.53 in the south, and £12.74 for dinner compared with £13.72.

However, many chain operators are confident that northern cities still offer strong growth potential, says BigHospitality’s sister publication Restaurant magazine​, whose feature this month on the north/south divide shows that business is booming for many concepts outside of the capital.

Brands such as Manchester-based Barburrito and pan-Asian restaurant Tampopo, with sites in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Reading, continue to post strong growth, while UK-wide chains such as Jamie’s Italian also continue to look northwards.

Peach Pubs, which predominantly concentrates on opening in market towns in the Midlands is targeting expansion to 22 food pubs by 2013, while price sensitive all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants such as Jimmy Spices, Flaming Dragon and Red Hot World Buffet are thriving in the north – the latter has private equity backing to grow to 25 sites over the next three years.

“[The Leeds and Liverpool sites] are still busy and trading very exceptionally well,” says Jamie’s Italian managing director Simon Blagden. “If we had the appropriate site I would be happy opening in Newcastle this year.”

Also this month…

Also in this month’s issue of Restaurant is an interview with Alan Murchison, founder of the 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group, who discusses how he ensures top-end dining is as much about profit as passion and gives an insight into the running of Michelin-starred restaurants across the country.

It also reveals the 31 coolest things in the restaurant world right now, from the ingredients and chefs making the most noise to the wines and designs that are having the greatest impact on the industry at the moment.

Plus, get your 30-page guide to identifying the ways to increase your drinks sales in our Liquid special.

Sign up for a subscription to Restaurant magazine for more business advice, ideas, profiles and more!

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