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Northern restaurant and bar boom continues

Published:  15 March, 2019

The number of restaurants and bars in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds increased by an average of 19% during the past five years, according to new research.

Manchester headed the list with a 22.3% net increase in the number of city centre food and drink venues between 2013 and 2018, with Liverpool close behind showing 18.1% growth, and Leeds snapping at its heels at 17 % growth, according to the CGA survey of opening and closures rate in ‘The Core Cities Group’, plus London and Edinburgh.

The next highest city was Bristol (12.7% increase), with London (6.8% increase) coming in eighth out of the twelve cities included in the study.

In terms of the major Northern cities trio, the data reflected the “ambition and confidence of the region,” said Thom Hetherington, chief executive of the Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB) trade exhibition.

“It’s no surprise to see Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds take the ‘medal positions’ with an extraordinary rate of growth; the ‘M62 corridor’ is developing its own centre of gravity, pulling in new residents, businesses and tourists drawn to its unrivalled combination of culture, lifestyle and opportunity,” he said.

“Obviously we’re based up here so we’ve seen the development first hand, but it’s been clear that the epicentre of the Northern food and drink scene has kicked on at an unprecedented rate of knots, with a direction and velocity of travel which has left other regions trailing in its wake.”

Other Northern cities however fared less well, with Sheffield for one recording a 4% decline.

In terms of closures across licensed sites in the past 12 months, Sheffield city centre has seen 9% of its total restaurants and bars close in the last year, whereas the figure was 11% in Manchester, 12% in both Liverpool and Newcastle, and 14% in London - the joint second highest closure rate in the study group together with Cardiff.

“I’m not surprised by the recent struggles in the capital, costs and risks can be astronomical for prime sites, and in my opinion that is part of the reason we are seeing more interesting, successful operators choice to stay in, or move to, the North,” said Hetherington.

The NRB trade show returns to Manchester next week on 19 and 20 March featuring more than 280 exhibitors.