New operators tipped to accelerate into UK drive-thru market


Drive-thru operations were once the sole domain of fast food operators.

But that looks all set to change as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with firms specialising in other cuisines weighing up the viability of the drive-thru concept.

They are keen to stake their claim for a piece of a market that was worth more than £700m a quarter by the end of last year, according to NPD Group figures.

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Coffee chains such as Costa and Starbuck have made drive-thrus a key part of their proposition, with sandwich and bakery chains such as Greggs and Subway following suit more recently.

Between September and November, Britons made 121 million visits to drive-thru services.

The NPD Group said it expects to see new operators entering the market and expanding the menu on offer beyond traditional fast food and coffee.

Fast food start up @pizza is planning to launch Britain’s first freshly-cooked pizza drive-thru in locations in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and British meat alternative brand Meatless Farm launched a temporary plant-based pop up drive-thru and walk-thru in London.

It also predicts drive-thrus will evolve to offer an increasingly varied range of cuisines, including pan-Asian and Indian food.

Dominic Allport, insights director (foodservice) at The NPD Group, said: “Already on the rise, there’s no question that the popularity of drive-thru in Britain has had a boost from Covid-19 as people tend to feel safer and more secure in their cars.

“As we face a new way of living, with perhaps more time in our cars and a greater reliance on online and digital ordering, it makes sense for operators to invest in drive-thru, and we expect to see it expand beyond coffee and burgers to pizza, Indian, vegan and other cuisines.”

DATA INSIGHT: Rocketing drive-thru sales fuel kitchen activity for leading chains

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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