Defining London’s Biggest Restaurant Property Estates
Our dedicated team of London restaurant property experts always have their fingers on the city’s pulse. This means having outstanding relationships with some of the UK’s biggest leisure property estates.
But it also means understanding their ambitions, preferences and the visions they have of the villages they want to build. Here we look at three of London’s most important property estates.
The Grosvenor Group are one of the foremost guiding hands in the formations of London as we know it today. Their most renowned asset, the Grosvenor Estate, is the direct descendent of the 500-acre Ebury estate which fell to Thomas Grosvenor in 1677.
Since then, the Group has diversified their portfolio, investing in property around the world – from China to Australia. But they still recognise the primacy of London, with CEO Mark Preston calling telling FT that, despite new ventures, London “is our most valuable asset.”
The family-led values of this leading London property group emphasise long-term returns and maintenance of their historic reputation. Today, the Grosvenor Group is recognised for taking their responsibilities to cities’ inhabitants seriously, and they can be credited for naming more than their fair share of all the streets and squares (some of the most prestigious) in London.
As we have written, these prestigious central locations are fiercely contested, with dozens of operators fighting over every prime location, and properties able to attract annual rents in the millions of pounds. Grosvenor are especially well endowed with these prime cuts of London restaurant property.
Of the 62 Michelin Starred restaurants in London, 21 are in Grosvenor Group’s Mayfair heartland, making it the place to be for high-end, Michelin-aspiring operators.
To the north of the historic Grosvenor Estate, is the Portman Estate. Like their neighbours, the Portman Estate is privately owned. Christopher Portman, 10th Viscount Portman, manages the estate today.
The Estate currently holds 110 acres across central London, mainly between Oxford Street and Edgeware Road. The jewel of the Portman crown, however, is the Marylebone district of Westminster.
The Portman portfolio is a mix of residential, retail and office property. As a business, the Portman Estate prides itself on being family run: not least since this affords them the freedom to act decisively in the short-term, but also to maintain a coherent long-term strategy.
With its mix of different property types, the Estate looks to build a community feel in the Marylebone area, managing its assets directly as a landlord and through selecting compatible long-term lease holders.
This is most keenly felt in Portman Village, comprised of Seymour Place and New Quebec Street. Here, the Portman Estate has assembled the kind of successful cluster of independent operators that we wrote about earlier this year.
The variety of choice provided by independent restaurants from Donostia’s gourmet Basque tapas to The Lockhart’s refined southern US cooking and The Grazing Goat, which offers a fine French menu in a more casual setting, all serves to boost footfall and interest in the area, to the benefit of all: from customers to landlords.
Shaftesbury PLC are a much newer estate, formed in 1986. They invested in the West End during the early ‘90s slump to emerge as a big player in Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden.
Shaftesbury are explicit about their village-style plans for the areas they invest in. They aim to add value to property by setting up clusters of “cohesion and consistency”, where commercial operations and residential tenants all support each other.
This community focus has served Shaftesbury well, as they picked up silver accreditation from EPRA Sustainability in 2014, Ethibel’s Excellence label for socially responsible investment and recognition from FTSE4good for their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
Shaftesbury excel in selling the West End as a hub of culture, commerce and retail. The imminent arrival of Crossrail to their holdings, with stations at Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road, can only help them attract high rents and successful, proven operators.
The portfolio was valued at £2.86bn at the start of the summer and Chief Executive Brian Bickell puts their success down to the resilience of the West End’s property.
“The buoyant local economy is reflected in continuing strong demand for space in our carefully-curated locations, high occupancy levels and sustained growth in current and prospective rental income,” Mr Bickell told Interactive Investor late in May.
Put simply, Shaftesbury are banking on the popularity of the West End come rain or shine. That kind of confidence has attracted some impressive operators to the area, such as Sesame, the middle-eastern café by Ottolenghi’s Noam Bar.
The group has recently received permission to redevelop Chinatown, adding 13, 500 sq ft of restaurant space. Work is planned for completion 2017.