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Is London Still the Place for Operators and New Concepts?

With Harden’s 2016 survey recording “off-the-charts” growth in new restaurants opening in the capital, those in the industry naturally ask “is this likely to continue this year?”.

We think so. The restaurant property market has been short of stock for the last 5 years, so now even with the number of buyers down by 25%, the demand still far outstrips the supply.

You only ever need one buyer for a transaction to go ahead, so really, there has been little change other than premiums have become a little more sensible.

You only ever need one buyer for a transaction to go ahead.

With regards to there being more restaurants in London now than ever before, the number of new openings is a misleading figure as over 90% of the time a new restaurant opens, it’s simply replaced another failed restaurant.

The biggest change in the market has been the cooling off of national expansion plans for most of the big chains.

Most groups are having a shake-up of their estates (which is not unusual) however to see central London sites on them is rare. These are being snapped up predominantly by independent operators who are viewing this as a time to secure sites they otherwise would struggle to secure.

London operators are aware they need to be the “best in class” as the competition is so strong. Many now see London restaurants as leading the way for New York and we at Restaurant Property agree with this view. Irrespective of price point, operators need to offer value and an excellent overall experience to drive repeat business.

Up to now, regional expansion has been dominated by chains (as landlords want to covenant strength to drive up their property value), but now they are not expanding at the same rate they will need to consider good local operators. London based operators are focusing on clean (healthy) eating, relaxed environments and a strong social media presence. It’s quite likely that some chefs create certain colourful dishes just so they can be Instagrammed by both themselves and patrons.

The areas outside of London that our clients are still focusing on are Brighton, Guildford, Southampton, Leeds and Bournemouth, all of which are receiving major investments.

Whilst Restaurant Property do cover the whole of the UK, our core patch that we are focusing on is between Knightsbridge to the West and Shoreditch to the East.

Mayfair has always been a speciality of ours but more operators these days want to be in East London towards Hackney and Dalston or South London in Brixton.

For many International operators its Mayfair or nowhere, so we always keep a very close eye on what’s coming up here. Nearly all the key sites are dealt with off-market so it’s really important operators who want representation in any particular area to get in touch and let us know.

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Area guide:
Clerkenwell

Once the stomping ground of famed English author Charles Dickens, Clerkenwell is now known as a centre of a different kind of creativity, attracting designers and architects in their droves.

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Area guide:
The City

‘The City’ – just one square mile in size – is in many ways London’s epicentre. This is where the Romans founded the city of Londinium. Today, the City is the hub of the nation’s finance industry, with 500 banks all slotting into this small section of the metropolis.

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Area guide:
Victoria

A small enclave of the City of Westminster in central London, Victoria is situated between Belgravia and St James’s with Hyde Park and Green Park to the north.

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Area guide:
Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue is the beating heart of London’s West End Theatre district. Here you’ll find a cluster of some of the country’s most famous theatre venues.

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Area guide:
Waterloo

The last decade has seen Waterloo transform from a slightly non-descript conduit of people in and out of its famous train station to a vibrant cultural hotspot.

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Area guide:
King's Cross

Located north of Fitzrovia and south of Camden, King’s Cross is on the outskirts of North London, but still benefits from being a short walk from the city centre and Regent’s Park.

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Knightsbridge

Located in West London, Knightsbridge has, over the years, become a byword for both exclusivity and luxury.

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Marylebone

Bordering Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Paddington, and the sweeping greenery of Regent’s Park, Marylebone is right in the very heart of chic London.

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Area guide:
Camden

For the last 50 years, Camden has been a bastion of the London music scene. And while it’s counter-culture clout may be waning – high-street giants and tourists are usurping one-of-a-kind shops and brooding musicians – the physical reminders of its gritty heyday somehow sustain Camden’s cool mystique.

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Area guide:
Chelsea

The sheer vibrancy and iconoclastic spirit of the King’s Road during the 60s and 70s made Chelsea famous. Well, more than famous, it made it cool. It was gritty, graffitied, and edgy.

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Canary Wharf

Home to some of the tallest buildings in the UK, Canary Wharf is a vibrant business and financial district of London.

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Covent Garden

Where can you find the heart of theatreland, striking street performers and London’s oldest restaurant all within a short walk? Look no further than Covent Garden.

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Area guide:
Mayfair

Mayfair, the upscale district of London bordered by leafy Hyde Park owes much of its prestigious reputation to being the most valuable square on the monopoly board.

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Area guide:
Soho

Located in the West End of London, Soho is a popular destination for nights out in the city. Situated within walking distance of Oxford Circus tube station, Soho experiences a heavy footfall of tourists and revellers alike.

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Area guide:
Shoreditch

Shoreditch is now one of the trendiest areas of London. A far cry from its Victorian slums’ heritage, Shoreditch is now home to a wealth of cool bars and hip restaurants jotted up and down its maze of small streets and main roads.

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