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Managed groups eye expansion despite swathe of hospitality closures

Published:  12 February, 2024

Gaucho and M-owner Rare Restaurants will open 30 new sites following its double-digit revenue growth in 2023.

Like-for-like sales were up by more than 20% for Rare Restaurants in 2023, despite significant investment in three new openings in Newcastle, Covent Garden and Cardiff.

However, the group did also close sites in Victoria and Canary Wharf, leaving only one site in London.

“We have seen brilliant growth in cities, towns and local neighbourhoods alike,” said Martin Williams, CEO of Rare Restaurants.

“With a pipeline of 30 UK locations, we will continue to grow our brands in a sustainable manner, which echoes our commitment to continue to offer our best-in-class menus,” he added.

Revenues reached £75m during the financial year with a growth of 23% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The news follows a swathe of hospitality closures across the industry in 2023. According to the latest data from CGA, more than 6,000 hospitality venues closed in 2023, bringing the total number of closures since the pandemic to nearly 23,000.

The figures also reveal that new openings in the sector have reduced for the third year in a row. Since 2020, there have been just short of 12,000 new venue openings in the UK.

Although there is no official breakdown between independent and group hospitality closures, Rare’s expansion stands to benefit from vacant venue space with 30 new sites in the company’s sights.

Last week, Urban Pubs & Bars revealed its plans to expand beyond the capital. The London-based business, which owns pubs including Nest, Bishopsgate, The Wheatsheaf, Tooting and The Gatehouse, Highgate, reported like-for-like sales growth of 19% in December 2023.

“Whilst the economic conditions are unfavourable at present, presenting numerous challenges to the hospitality industry, Urban Pubs and Bars is trading strongly,” said Chris Hill, MD of Urban Pubs & Bars.

“We are confident that further opportunities to expand the business will arise and look forward to more openings and further growth this year,” he added.

Meanwhile, the pan-Asian chain restaurant Wagamama will open 10 new restaurants across the UK in locations including Glasgow, Epsom, Chatham, Watford and Doncaster.

“The past year has been an exciting year for us where we evolved the brand through innovative new menu launches,” said Thomas Heier, Wagamama's chief executive.