The number of restaurants across the UK has also surpassed the number of wet-led pubs and bars for the first time this year – whose numbers fell by 4.4 per cent – fuelled by the booming casual-dining market and greater consumer confidence.
While central London saw the most new openings in the past year in numbers terms, up by more than 100, other cities are overtaking it in terms of rate of growth for both restaurants and bars.
There are now more restaurants with licences in the UK than drink-led ‘community locals’ – 27,500 versus 26,700 – with central and northern cities leading this growth.
Licences increased in London by 3.3 per cent in the past year, but in Manchester they rose by 3.7 per cent and by around 5 per cent in Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
Branded chains continue to drive growth in restaurant numbers outside of the capital.
“The reality of today’s eating-out market is that, beyond the M25, there are more expansion opportunities for the leading branded operators, as shown by the presence of cities such as Leicester, York and Sheffield in the top-10 growth towns,” said Paul Hemming, managing director at AlixPartners.
“The proliferation of branded eating-out concepts to relatively new destinations, and its obvious implications for the independent operator cohort, is a picture that chimes with what we hear in the marketplace anecdotally, through the businesses with which we work.
“It is clear that the desire for quality food and bar offerings has spread across the country. Many of our clients are taking advantage of this new market and are finding the combination of strong demand and (typically) lower rent is delivering a highly attractive return on investment.”