The report, from AlixPartners and CGA Peach, shows that the North East saw a 20.6 per cent increase in food-led premises in the five years to September 2015, just eclipsing London’s 20 per cent growth.
According to BigHospitality's sister publication M&C Allegra Foodservice, Scotland also saw good growth, with an 18.3 per cent rise, as did the East of England, which saw an 18.1 per cent rise, the report showed.
London’s growth equated to an additional 1,446 premises – almost a new opening a day – and was the most concentrated region by far for restaurants, with a total of 8,681 food-led sites as of September.
London was also the only region of the UK that increased its overall supply of licensed premises since 2010 – by 4.5 per cent.
London’s momentum was also confirmed by Harden’s review aggregator which registered 179 new restaurant launches in London in the last year, and an openings to closure ratio of 3.2 to 1 – the second highest in its 25-year history. However, a two-pronged levelling out can be expected in coming years, the report stated.
The risk of saturation was becoming apparent in regions excluding London and the burden of rocketing rents were prompting many expanding groups to break out of the M25 as a matter of urgency.
“London will forever be the UK’s restaurant capital, but operators’ future growth seems set to come from further afield,” the report stated.
The report highlighted an overarching theme that the number of licensed premises in Britain is now increasing after prolonged decline. Out of 236 British towns with more than 100 licensed premises, only 85 saw their stock fall in the year to the end of September.
The growth was driven by casual dining restaurants in particular, with more than four in five towns—203 out of 236—increasing their number of food-led licensed premises over the year. Over a five-year period Milton Keynes was the town with the fastest growth, increasing its number of licensed premises by 37 per cent.
Milton Keynes was also highlighted in the report as the town with the greatest increase of food-led openings. The town has seen a net increase of 48 sites over the past five years – a 37.2 per cent rise. In the last year alone, food-led sites increased 6 per cent. The report noted that Nando’s clearly had its eye on the ball, as the chain now has five sites in the town.