The space race for young innovative food concepts


The space race for young innovative food concepts

The space race for young innovative food concepts

It isn’t easy being a newcomer on the hospitality scene. The last UK census stated that there were 478 restaurants per 100,000 people in London, compared to 295 in New York and 189 in Paris- competition is literally around every corner. But, for those companies with less than 20 sites, this isn’t the only restriction to their growth.

The property market has proved a difficult obstacle. With commercial property rent at a premium and demand being higher than ever, landlords are more frequently opting for the “safer” choice of tenant. This means that the emerging brands (considered as a risk) are frequently being discarded in favour of well established high street names.

Opportunities for these operators to find property do arise, in other formats. Taking advantage of the race for space, places like transport hubs and shopping centres are dedicating more of their space to food outlets. A great example of this is Trinity Kitchen in Leeds Trinity shopping centre; a food hall with a twist, featuring permanent outlets and rotating street food vendors. Trinity Kitchen is welcoming of the emerging brands, featuring street food style Rola Wala and the casual dining Pizzaluxe. Transport hubs are also realising this opportunity- Autogrill work with brands such as LEON, allowing LEON to franchise their brand across the UK. Landlords in these areas are recognising the need to attract footfall as more people move away from retail shops and onto the web. We are seeing these spaces transformed into destinations that offer a multitude of experiences, rather than focusing on retail.

Partnerships with established retailers and high street names are also becoming a viable route to growth for the emerging operators. As demonstrated by partnerships such as POD and Starbucks and Tesco with Fred’s Food Construction, Burrito Kitchen and Farm. The larger operators recognise their strengths and weaknesses and are beginning to understand that partnering with these new brands can help with aspects such as innovation and brand perception. New brands can be more agile and quicker to adapt to changes in demand and food trends.

Prosperity for these operators is likely to come through innovation; offering a different menu, service style or design will make them stand out from their competitors and ultimately make them more appealing to landlords and larger retail brands. They can attract interest by disrupting the status quo; shake up the service offered, make it something that guests return for and make it a recognisable part of the brand image. There is space for an emerging operator to grow, it’s just about being more creative, putting a focus on innovation and finding something that can set the brand apart.

HGEM can help operators to manage their guest experience with detailed insights from Mystery Visits and by capturing valuable feedback through an online engagement scheme.

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