England’s magnetic North: Seven big trends from CGA

The recent Northern Restaurant & Bar show in Manchester showcased hospitality’s vibrancy in the north of England—confirmed by CGA by NIQ research that highlights its resilience despite major challenges. In a special presentation at the show, CGA’s Karl Chessell highlighted some of the key trends and thriving operators to watch.

1 Northern cities beating the market

As the Hospitality Market Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals, Britain now has 15.8% fewer licensed premises than it did in 2019. But many key northern cities have outperformed this average. Liverpool has lost only 2.4% of its premises, and Newcastle (-5.8%) and Manchester (-6.3%) have been relatively resilient too. Some northern hubs have also outpaced the average sales growth of 4.1% since 2019, including Newcastle (+14.2%) and Manchester (+6.9%).


2 Bars and pubs robust

While restaurants have suffered many of the closures lately, other segments have been resilient. The number of bars and bar restaurants in northern England dropped by only 1% in 2022, and food pubs (-2%) and high street pubs (-2%) stemmed losses too.


3 Northern brands are spreading their footprint

The North has a great track record for creating distinctive new concepts and incubating brands that have then spread elsewhere, like Mowgli, The Alchemist and Gusto. Operators including Mission Mars, Roxy Leisure and Graffiti Spirits Group starting in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool respectively are rapidly growing their footprint beyond the North into cities like Birmingham and London.


4 Demand and satisfaction high

Despite the cost of living crisis, hospitality remains as attractive as ever to consumers in the North. CGA’s Consumer Pulse survey at the start of the year showed no month-on-month decreases in spending on eating and drinking out, and four in five (77%) of consumers said they were very satisfied or satisfied with their most recent experience. Hospitality continues to deliver quality experiences for its customers.


5 Investment continues

In a positive sign for hospitality there is confident investment in key northern cities. Manchester, with transformations of buildings and districts including Kampus, New Century and the forthcoming Diecast, is a case in point. These have capitalised on more people living in central Manchester and show the role hospitality plays in helping bring parts of the city back to life.


6 Appetite for experiences

The recent trend for experience-led venues goes on in northern cities. In the North West, 15% of consumers now visit experience-led venues at least once every three months—two percentage points more than Britain’s average. This is reflected in developments in Manchester like Escape to Freight Island with different events on each night, whilst in the North East, Apartment Group have Howlers with a range of events and live acts and an enormous ball pit.


7 Collaboration and partnerships growing

The North has a reputation for people working together and collaborating and that is coming through in hospitality. North Brewing Co’s hook-ups

with other brewers such as Bundobust and street food brands like Little Bao Boy are great examples of this as they continue to open new venues.


CGA by NIQ’s unique fusion of outlet data, sales measurement and consumer research helps suppliers and operators capitalise on opportunities in key northern cities. To learn more, email Karl Chessell at karl.chessell@cgastrategy.com.

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