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London retains draw for restaurateurs but inflated rents a turn off

12 February 2020 by

High London rents are creating a "very difficult situation" for those eyeing a move to the UK, with operators faced with the prospect of "working for the landlord".

That is according to Yossi Eliyahoo, founder of the Entourage Group, which runs stand-alone sites such as MOMO in Amsterdam as well as brands including Mr Porter and the Butcher across the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. He told The Caterer the UK was "always on my wish list".

Eliyahoo, who previously operated Chino Latino restaurants in Nottingham, Leeds and London, said: "I'd love to go back to London and am looking at options and viewing things - we're in talks about a few locations."

However, in a week that saw Nobu's Berkeley Street site let for a annual rent in the region of £2.2m the founder stressed that the numbers have to add up if he is to return to the UK.

He continued: "It's a very, very, very difficult situation in London with the high rents and rates of 40% on top. I have said no to a lot of amazing locations because I would have ended up working for the landlord."

The founder said Manchester could be an alternative to the capital describing it as an "amazing city", with the Mr Porter steakhouse, Duchess restaurant, and the Butcher burger bar brands all under consideration for a UK launch.

Jack de Wet, director of development at the Big Mamma Group, behind Gloria in Shoreditch and Circolo Popolare in Fitzrovia, also spoke of the difficulties posed by London rents. The group made the move to London from France last year.

He told the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) conference in Amsterdam: "We are constantly challenged with the idea of growth but equally we are trying to grow sustainably. It requires patience."

He added: "Landlords are slowly coming to the idea that F&B has a part to play in place making and all those other wonderful ideas. They are starting to realise it's about finding the right tenant in it for the right reasons."

De Wet said the group did not pursue talks with landlords without a long-term outlook offering a mixture of a basic rent with a percentage-based uplift calculated off performance.

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