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Fast-casual diversity in London’s restaurant property market

  • London restaurant property experts

Fast-casual restaurant operators in the UK work in one of the most diverse markets in the world. Food from hundreds of cultures is sourced, cooked and served in the UK, in endlessly novel and innovative ways, providing restaurateurs with new ways to enter the market.

Consumers are endlessly told about the next big thing: that hot dogs are the new burgers or that Canadian food is about to make a huge mark in the UK. Here, our London restaurant property experts look at how the restaurant market has to adapt to the constant influx of new restaurant concepts.

The scope for diversity

Increasing market diversity is a trend set to continue. Dining out will be an industry worth £56.3bn by 2019. This is an astounding industry growth of £10bn in four years. Although established brands will look to expand into this space, it also means that there will be ten billion pounds’ worth of room for new concepts to establish themselves.

Last week we wrote about South London’s restaurant hotspots. Our restaurant property experts expect that the £10bn growth will make itself keenly felt in such emerging hotspots across the country, with some areas benefiting much more than others from diners’ extra spending confidence.

Since such hotspots are typically established by clusters of ‘colonising’ independent new concepts, the predicted industry growth looks set to unleash a new tide of operators ready to add more choice to an already highly diverse marketplace.

Multitier diversity

Diversity permeates every tier of the fast-casual market, from small variation in the way businesses operate, to the vast number of different brands and concepts on offer.

Take the menu as a starting point. Wahaca offer fifty different dishes on their standard menu. Franco Manca’s numbered pizza menu only goes up to six. These are two polarized concepts: one delivers an entire Mexican street food market in a colourful urban space, where the other specialises solely on sourdough pizzas, keeping costs down by producing one food with minor variations.

The same level of diversity exists in other areas of restaurant operations. The Breakfast Club and MEATliquor look to cultivate a sub-cultural, slightly antiestablishment following through their refusal to allow table reservations.

How to thrive in a diverse market place

The lesson from this multitier diversity is that even small variations in how your operation is run can help add to a larger project of differentiation, which can help you to stand out from competitors and add to a wider, recognisable brand image.

There are features of the fast-casual market that make diversity inevitable and thus the need to differentiate your brand more urgent than in fine dining. The lower cost means people can afford to dine at fast-casuals more often, meaning they’re more likely to try a wide variety of places if they can, putting pressure on the market to be diverse.

Further, cheaper food means younger professionals and students can come to the table, especially since younger people prefer casual service. Younger customers are more likely to follow trends and so differentiation is vital to attracting this market.

Pop-ups are an efficient way to break into the fast-causal market. Temporary structures can take risks in order to look novel and attractive, which traditional restaurant properties cannot. This makes differentiation much easier. Fast-casual can do without table-service, or even tables, meaning pop-ups are an increasingly popular way of operating in the diverse fast-causal market place.

Get in contact with our restaurant property experts today to discuss your plans to expand in this growing industry.

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