With a host of high-profile new openings, including sports bar BOX, Nell’s New York Pizza and Bar, and Contact Bar & Kitchen from GRUB in Manchester, Northern cities are leading the UK in terms of new openings, despite the unprecedented challenges of the past two years, according to data compiled by Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB), the North’s hospitality trade exhibition.
The growth has been driven by the region’s ambitious local entrepreneurs, as well as national operators, who have invested as the pandemic eases, feeding the growing appetites of both locals and city visitors.
The data was provided by CGA, the industry-leading food and drink data insights company.
Manchester came fourth on the list, with 2.5% growth, whilst Liverpool led the list with a huge 4.4% net increase in hospitality venues over the last three months of 2021.
Leeds was second on 3.9%, Edinburgh came third on 3.3%, and Newcastle rounded out the top five with 2.3% growth.
London came in ninth out of the 14 cities surveyed.
The fact that four of the top five fastest recovering hospitality scenes are in the North neatly echoes recent national hospitality awards, which declared four of the UK’s top five restaurants and four of its top five gastropubs to be in the North of England.
Thom Hetherington, CEO of NRB, said the findings reflected the strength and resilience of both operators and audiences in Northern cities.
“Operators in cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds have suffered just like the whole hospitality sector, with huge issues around lockdown costs, lost trading and staffing,” says Thom.
“So, although this initial turnaround may be small, the direction of travel is a vital and encouraging change.
“It offers a much-needed burst of positivity to see so many new concepts, sites and launches, and to see happy drinkers and diners flooding through the door.”
Although the recent increase in hospitality venues is testament to the tenacity of the sector, Thom insists it is no time for complacency.
“We all understand that challenges remain, which is exactly why NRB is so important.
“This is the first opportunity of the year for the industry to come together, to share stories and advice, to meet their suppliers and to source new ones.
“With ideas and inspiration from NRB and the right support from government – for example the retention of the VAT reduction – I think Northern hospitality can continue to drive the economy, supporting vital jobs and supply chains whilst also bringing good times to millions of people.”
The data for all of the cities ranked is based on CGA & AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor. CGA have tracked all licensed premises in GB for over 25 years.
“It is highly encouraging to see some of our key cities re-energised with new investment and openings after an incredibly tough period through the pandemic,” says Karl Chessell, Director – Hospitality Operators & Food at CGA.
“The recovery is fragile but there are green shoots of recovery and particular in some of the big Northern cities.
“The role of hospitality is critical in the economic recovery and the social recovery of these vibrant cities.”
Northern Restaurant & Bar, which takes place Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th March, at Manchester Central, has over 300 exhibitors booked alongside a packed programme of events including over 50 timetabled demos and tastings for every area of hospitality.