Stations the new battleground as food sales at UK’s biggest railway hubs climb 6%

King's Cross station, Network Rail

Britain’s railway stations are becoming an increasingly important battleground for major foodservice chains after Network Rail revealed that F&B sales are significantly up on last year.

The rail giant, which manages around 20 of the UK’s biggest stations, said that food and beverage outlets were proving “increasingly popular”, with sales rising by 6% overall compared to the same period last year.

‘Daily journey type purchases’ helped to swell the figure as cafes, restaurants and kiosks sold the equivalent of 4.5 million cups of coffee.

The growth in food and beverage sales even out-performed traditional retail purchases, which were up 2.5%.

204 million people passed through Network Rail’s managed stations between April and June this year, with almost one in three station users (64 million) visiting station retailers in the period. Like-for-like sales at the organisation have now risen for 17 consecutive quarters.

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Sales at major stations in London (King’s Cross +9%), and across the country (Manchester +10% and Reading +10%) performed well, pointing to the ongoing changes in consumer shopping habits as more people look for central locations to meet, eat, shop and travel, Network Rail said.

To coincide with the release of the figures, Network Rail Property, the company’s commercial division, has announced the appointment of Daniel Charles as the its new head of retail.

He will join in October from the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, where he was head of retail for almost two-and-a-half years. Prior to this role he worked as a senior category manager at Network Rail for seven years.

David Biggs, Network Rail’s managing director of property, stated: “These figures show that the quality retail offering at Network Rail stations is driving strong customer traffic to the many shops, cafes and boutiques that stations now have to offer. That’s good news for shoppers and good news for passengers too. All profits from retail sales are reinvested back into the railway, helping fund the Railway Upgrade Plan.”

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