Charlie McVeigh: Trend for experiential venues may not be as 'durable' as expected

28 September 2023 by
Charlie McVeigh: Trend for experiential venues may not be as 'durable' as expected

Hospitality sector investor Charlie McVeigh has said the trend for experiential venues is "not going to be as durable" as expected.

McVeigh, who is the chairman of fried chicken chain Butchies and founded investment firm Bunker Projects, made the comments while speaking on a panel at the Casual Dining Show 2023, held this week at ExCel London.

He said businesses which offer "great food, great service and great atmosphere" would continue to attract both investment and customers.

Lizzie Ryan, partner at Imbiba, said the firm had heavily invested in experiential sites and there were signs the trend was here to stay for the meantime, particularly due to its popularity among the younger demographic.

However, she said she was unsure if the trend had much staying power beyond the next decade or two.

McVeigh said his most recent investment was in Pocket Planet, an immersive 30,000 sq ft indoor miniature world experience, due to open on the site of a former New Look store in Oxford Street in 2025.

It will join other interactive and experiential sites in and around central London, including crazy golf concept Swingers, which opened in 2018 in a building formerly owned by BHS, and Lifesize Monopoly, which opened in 2021 on the former flagship Paperchase store on Tottenham Court Road.

Chris Miller, founder of hospitality investment firm White Rabbit Projects, told the panel there was still a lot of money to be made in hospitality as people "will always need food and drink".

McVeigh said "excess money" had "kept mediocre business from disappearing" before the current cost of living crisis and advised those who wanted to set up a hospitality business to "got for it".

Ryan said that despite the number of closures in the sector it was a great time to start a hospitality businesses "when others are backing away".

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