Growth is beginning to be back on the agenda

By Ted Schama

- Last updated on GMT

What will 2023 bring for restaurants in terms of growth opportunities?

Related tags Property shelley sandzer Ted Schama

As larger businesses dispose of their marginal sites, 2023 will see more favourable terms for smaller players than possibly ever before.

Coming into this year it certainly felt as though we had all survived the most challenging year of Covid 2021. With sunnier climes predicted ahead, we were sent back down to earth with a bump. A surreal situation of a major war outbreak in Ukraine quickly became all too real, inflation in everything sky rocketed and rail strikes interrupted any consistent pattern in trade.

All this added up to a time of consolidation rather than growth, which put the brakes on many property acquisition programmes.

Notwithstanding the UK pressures there were of course winners. Value propositions, for example, have gone from strength to strength. There has also been a growth in requirements for drive-thrus, which have traditionally only been dominated by a few players. In 2023 we will see much more variety for when you are recharging your electric vehicle roadside.

Strong operators in big cities outside of London have performed as well as London with suburbs also holding up well. Destination and theatrical dining has also prospered both in London and the rest of the country.

With all of this digested, larger, able landlords have been participating in deals in a more meaningful way. New developments that had been slow to gain traction saw more movement as the year came to a close and will continue to do so in the year ahead.

Markers have been laid down in numerous sites we have been dealing with independents either debuting or indeed growing. Our feeling is that as larger businesses dispose of their marginal or non-profitable sites during the course of 2023, those markers will become a stronger force offering opportunities for the smaller guys to grow on more favourable terms than seen for many years or possibly ever.

Larger business will also get more opportunities to purchase smaller businesses offering new brand growth to portfolios with lagging brands.

Moves have also been made for international growth and this will continue. Franchising a brand to a new territory such as UAE can be a profitable route for growth with much of the risk negated.

Growth is beginning to be back on the agenda and will continue in a considered manner throughout 2023.

Ted Schama is joint managing partner at Shelley Sandzer​.

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