Gourmet burger market steps up a gear

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Shack Shake is one of the gourmet burger businesses with ambitious growth plans
Shack Shake is one of the gourmet burger businesses with ambitious growth plans

Related tags: Shake shack, Westfield london, Stratford international station, Westfield stratford city

Reports of the death of the burger trend have been greatly exaggerated it would appear, with the market set to boom in the coming years as its main protagonists continue to expand.

US burger chain Shake Shack will open its second site in spring this year, on the high street by Westfield Stratford shopping centre, in a move that will kickstart its expansion in London and beyond. The 4,500sq ft restaurant will have 150 covers and feature a design more in tune with Shake Shack’s branding in the States, as will subsequent sites over here. It will use reclaimed timber, such as tables made with wood from Brooklyn bowling alleys, and its interior will also reflect the community in which it is located.

Shake Shack has so far had a slow start in the UK. It operates just the one site, split over a number of areas, in Covent Garden – which it opened in summer 2013 – but now has the structure in place to roll out. Nigel Sherwood, business director of Shake Shack UK. "We are ready to grow the brand now and Westfield Stratford City will be the springboard for us in the UK.”

London will be Shake Shack’s heartland, with it looking to open a handful of sites in the capital by 2018 – high footfall locations such as St Paul’s, Earls Court and Victoria are targeted.
It is also eyeing Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries, with sites of 4,000-5,000sq ft being sought.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen also continues to expand. The group, which has enjoyed its 13th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, has announced plans to grow its estate to 100 by 2018 by opening a restaurant each month. “We have an aggressive opening plan and see no reason not to open a minimum of 10 restaurants a year,” says CEO Alasdair Murdoch.

MeatLiquor, meanwhile, has launched a round of fundraising with the aim of securing £7m to grow from six to 12 sites by the end of 2017. The company, which is led by Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis, is to bring in new shareholders as part of plans to open five sites per year from 2018. 

It will open in Bristol this spring​, with a site in Islington set to follow. A further opening has been secured in Glasgow for 2018 and targets are set for London, plus opportunities in Birmingham, Cardiff, Bath, Nottingham, Belfast, Dublin, Cambridge and Oxford.

The move from street trader to bricks and mortar operator will continue this year with Bleecker St Burger opening a permanent site in Old Spitalfields Market, London.

This article was first published in the January issue of Restaurant magazine, out today. To download the digital edition click here​. To subscribe click here​.

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