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Chains Top Choice In UK

Chains are once again top of the pops in British foodservice. According to a new report from NPD Group, customers are more likely to spend money at chain (or branded) restaurants and pubs in the UK than choose independent operators.

When measured last fall, chain outlets took 56% of the market share, compared with 44% for privately owned independent operators. Those figures in NPD’s “Eating Out Of Home” study almost flip the numbers from NPD’s 2008 report, which showed brands had just 43% of the market, versus 57% for independents.

Chains attracted 6.28 billion visits in 2016, a rise of 1.2 billion more store visits than the 5.03 billion recorded in 2008, the report said. Chains dominate London, winning 68% of market share. It’s even more extreme in the capital’s QSR and pub markets, where chains garner 80% of the market.

Cyril Lavenant, NPD’s Director of Foodservice UK, said: “For the branded sector to have reversed its market share with independents over just eight years underlines how quickly Britain’s foodservice market is changing. Independents are struggling to be relevant and appealing to consumers on the British high street and clearly do not ‘speak’ well to young adults. Foodservice chains do a better job in this respect, especially with meal deals and promotions.”

Also key to the turnaround, Lavenant added, is the ability of bigger brands to invest in their products and to expand into new and popular locations. “Remember that many of the big foodservice outlets we know today started as small independents. So there is clearly room for new players but they must offer something exciting and different or they will not succeed.”

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