Retail and leisure lettings in Liverpool and Manchester have been heavily weighted towards food and beverage in the last 18 months, despite a slowdown in expansion by national brands, the consultancy said.
In Liverpool, 40% of new city centre retail and leisure occupants since the first quarter of 2016 have been F&B operators, rising to 41% for Manchester.
In both cities, much of the activity is attributed to street food and healthy ‘grab and go’ operators, many of them independent. Liverpool city centre has seen 161 retail and leisure occupants open in the last 18 months, of which 65 were F&B brands, such as Neighbourhood and El Mexicana. Included within this 65 were 25 cafes and restaurants.
Since Q1 2016, 25% of the city’s F&B lettings involved change of planning use for the properties involved from A1/A2/B1 – shops, banks and offices – said the firm.
Savills also highlights 246 new retail and leisure occupants in Manchester city centre since Q1 2016, of which 102 were F&B. This total includes Roc ‘n’ Rye, Dirty Martini and The Ivy, the latter two of which are currently fitting out their units.
Cafes and restaurants accounted for 60 of these 102 openings, equating to 24%. A third of F&B lettings in Manchester during this period, including Bravissimi, Leon and Creams Cafe, saw operators change the planning use of the properties involved from A1/A2/B1.
John Agnew, director in the retail and leisure team at Savills, said: “In both Liverpool and Manchester, the level of requirements from local and regional F&B operators remains robust despite a general slow down in expansion plans by some national brands across the UK.
“Independent street food operators such as Bakchich and Panchos Burritos in Liverpool and Rudy’s Pizza and Bundobust in Manchester have been at the forefront. Likewise, healthy grab and go operators such as Kettlebell Kitchen, Friska and Nourish have been driving demand for space in both cities.”
The rise of the indies has had an effect on unit size, said Tom Whittington, retail research director at Savills: “Two to three years ago, many F&B operators were seeking larger, combined units. Partly due to the increase in independent operators, there is now growing appetite for smaller spaces.
“This has seen the average unit sizes let to F&B brands in Liverpool and Manchester reduce 25% to 805 sq ft over the last year and a half.”
Manchester also tops Savills UK ranking for growth in the casual dining sector since 2015, with 32 openings across the city centre. Liverpool ranks 9th, with 10 new openings during that time.