Shelley Sandzer: more sites will be coming to the market

By Finn Scott-Delany

- Last updated on GMT

Many restaurant and bar groups have quietly restructured their estates post-Covid

Related tags Property shelley sandzer R200 Multi-site Casual dining

Many restaurant and bar groups have quietly restructured their property estates post-Covid, enabling them to survive current cost pressures, according to Ted Schama, managing director at Shelley Sandzer.

Speaking at last week’s R200 conference, the property expert told delegates he often gets asked when the “tsunami of sites” is coming to market following the financially bruising past few years.

“There’s an undercurrent of a story which hasn’t been reported in the press,” he said. “People have gone about post-covid informal CVA processes. They’ve rebased their rates and relationship with landlords undercover. Loads of portfolios have been renegotiated, meaning they’ve been able to survive.

“I expect more and more sites will come to market in the next three to six months – but not necessarily a tsunami.”

The cooling down of the suburbs

Speaking about trends in property, Schama suggested the previously “white hot” suburbs had begun to cool off, as people returned to their offices.

This has been exemplified by bidding wars for some popular suburban sites, driving prices higher, he said. 

“When it gets that hot, you have to worry a bit. You have to start thinking about post-Covid, and how is it going to settle.

“There’s a limit in terms of how much people want to spend in suburban vs city centre, and that might have an impact.”

A good barometer for city centre recovery has been the improved fortunes of the West End, with Shaftesbury reporting positive trade, footfall up and spend up vs pre-covid levels, Schama said.

More flexible sites

The current climate has led to operators being more flexible with their site specifications, with businesses willing to take on smaller sites in high footfall areas.

He cited Shake Shack’s new Argyle Street restaurant as an example of an operator that has downsized to fit the location.

“It’s one of the most resilient streets in central London. It shows how significant operators are gravitating to higher footfall locations, and downsizing.

“Years ago, it was all about cookie cutter sites. Lot of businesses are moving on from that kind of template now.”

He also observed an emerging trend for small wine bars, sub-2,000sq ft, with little to no extraction.

“People are adapting if they can, they’ve spotted wine bars have been neglected. It seems to be a very nice model.”

Hitting the road

Roadside locations were another major property trend identified by Schama, which he said would continue to grow due to its guaranteed passing traffic.

With Gail’s recently linked to plans for drive-thru/drive-to sites, he said operators can analyse the demographic more effectively, while dwell time is longer with the emergence of EV charging.

“From a property point of view, it’s very quantifiable, very robust, very resilient.

“It’s a sector that’s not been exploited here [in the UK], and I expect we’ll see a lot more of those.”

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