Restaurant chains offering specialist cuisine still considered relatively new to the UK market are roaring ahead with store expansion at the expense of more traditional operators, such as Italiam-themed chains.
Research from commercial property and real estate services advisor CBRE noted that the number of burrito bars and restaurants such as Barburrito and Chilango has grown at the fastest rate of any food type over the last few years, including a 71% rise in branch numbers over the last 12 months and an average annual growth rate of 57% since 2009.
Similarly, outlets specialising in mixed world cuisine, such as Giraffe, have seen growth of 41% over the last year and 40% annual average over the last five years, while new entrants in natural healthy food, like Leon, have enjoyed rapid growth of 38% over the last year and 15% annual average growth since 2010.
In contrast, more traditional restaurant offerings have seen far slower growth, according to CBRE. It claimed that while Italian chain restaurants such as Carluccio’s and Jamie’s Italian are the largest in terms of the number of branches, with 817 across the UK, the average growth in numbers has been limited over the last five years at just 5%.
Steak restaurants have also seen slow average annual growth over the last five years at just 1%, while specialist fish restaurants have seen a 3% fall in branch numbers over the same period.
CBRE revealed its outlook on the chain business as it announced that foodservice outlets are the only category of chain operator to have experienced unbroken growth in UK branch numbers over the last 17 years.
An analysis of data supplied by Retail Locations found that restaurant and food outlet numbers are now 258% higher than in 1998. This equates to an 8% annual average growth rate, with a total of 17,450 chain branches in operation across the country.
The company said the growth far outweighs that of other leisure outlets, including bingo halls, cinemas and gyms, which have grown by 90% since 1998, equivalent to a 4% annual average growth rate.
It also exceeds the increase in number of other retailers and shops, which are now 50% higher than in 1998, with 3% annual average growth.
Seb Howard, head of Central London leisure at CBRE, said: “This study shows that the recession in tandem with the growth of online retailing hit parts of the UK high street hard, but the restaurant sector proved extremely resilient. In recent years, there has been extraordinary diversification in the restaurant sector driven by the demand for new types of cuisine and the changing eating patterns fuelled by the rise of street food vendors.
“These trends have injected vibrancy into the market and seen restaurateurs capitalise on the increased availability of premises and floor-space left by other shop operators closing their doors. This is why the sector is so important to the health of the UK high street, encouraging consumers back and increasing the time they spend close to other local retailers.”