As we head towards a new year, there’s nothing to suggest the next 12 months won’t herald the sort of operator appetite for expansion that we have seen in 2015.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a operator that hasn’t enlarged their estate this year and while the tactics being deployed may vary depending on site availability and priority, the consensus is that store growth is integral for any player that is looking to beef up their top line.
It goes without saying that where there are new stores, there are new kitchens, and so the desire for growth that continues to be shown throughout the industry will be of great encouragement to the catering equipment supply community.
Picking the big winners of the future is never easy, but the ongoing buzz around the grab-and-go sector certainly makes this a category worth watching next year. Small footprint operations, cooking models that can be easily replicated and low start-up costs mean that those with access to funds can scale quickly and effectively.
Interestingly, a recent industry report on the fastest growing parts of the foodservice sector highlighted Mexican chains as one of the top performers. Brands such as Barburrito, Benito’s Hat, Chilango and Chipotle have contributed to the sector enjoying a staggering 146% growth over the past three years.
One particular sub-plot I’m keen to follow is the reported entrance of fast food operator Jollibee into the UK market. It is said to be planning its first UK store in London next year as part of an international strategy to expand into new overseas markets.
There is never any shortage of international players looking to enter the UK market, but as the largest QSR in Asia, with 3,000 stores, Jollibee won’t just be wanting to make up the numbers. If anybody doubted its ambitions, it recently splashed out $335m (£220m) to acquire a 40% stake in Smashburger, the US-based fast casual restaurant concept.
One thing never changes though: in the UK foodservice market there is zero room for complacency.