All aboard: Network Rail’s sales results show growing business potential of railway stations for restaurants

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Network rail Train station

London’s King's Cross Station has seen like-for-like sales across F&B brands up by 18 per cent
London’s King's Cross Station has seen like-for-like sales across F&B brands up by 18 per cent
With branded national restaurant chains increasingly recognising the potential of high-footfall transport hubs, Network Rail’s latest train station F&B sales results prove that the areas are now becoming eating, drinking and dining destinations in their own right.

London’s King's Cross Station, which recently saw the introduction of 27,000 sq.ft of new retail, restaurant and bar space,​has seen like-for-like sales across F&B brands up by 18 per cent from the start to the end of the last quarter.

The best performing brands were Pret a Manger, Wasabi, Benito’s Hat​and Leon – the last two of which took up residence at the new concourse earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Waterloo Station has recently completed the first stage of a £25m redevelopment project which has seen the introduction of a number of brands including Carluccio’s, Benugo and the new Corney & Barrow concept, C&B Cabin.

David Biggs, director of property at Network Rail, said: “The wettest weather on record for 100 years, the extended Jubilee bank holiday weekend and an increase in major weekend engineering work in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics all contributed towards some tougher periods in stations.

Food on the go

“However, the fact that we are still able to post an increase in revenue shows that our stations still provide some of the most lucrative trading environments available today.”

The news follows a report released earlier this month by foodservice consultancy Horizons, which revealed that quality ‘food on the go’ has fast-become the key area of growth for the UK’s eating out market​ with concepts consistently emerging in these transport hubs along with shopping centres and busy high street locations as consumers are looking to eat where they want, when they want.

However, train station leases for F&B brands tend to be structured on a percentage turnover and minimum guarantee, with the rent set on forecast performance.

Landlord-biased leases

As Alice Keown, associate director of specialist property advisor Davis Coffer Lyons, explained: “The landlord holds more cards than on the high street due to the strength of the station’s position, so leases are landlord-biased.

“Operators can expect to pay up to a fifth of their turnover in rent at a station. However, the good news is where traditionally cash-rich and covenant-strong operators were king, Network Rail is actively looking to diversify the tenant mix and consider operators that are breaking the mould.”

Across 17 of Britain’s biggest and busiest stations owned and operated by Network Rail, top performing categories in terms of sales in the last quarter were specialist food retail (+17.7 per cent), specialist food catering (+13.7 per cent), restaurants (+8.48 per cent) and bars (+8.42 per cent).

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