Artisan coffee shops specialising in high quality, fresh-roasted coffee with a strong food offer are expanding quicker than any other UK food and drink sector, while Mexican brands are also seeing exceptional growth.
That's according to the latest Ones to Watch survey from foodservice trends analyst Horizons, which tracks the growth of new and emerging brands that have 5-25 outlets and that have shown at least 20% expansion in the past three years.
Coffee shops topped the latest biannual list, as coffee drinkers become ever more discerning. The sector is poised for yet more rapid growth, Horizons said, as independent, health-conscious groups offering high-quality coffee were continuing to grow, despite the long-held dominance of branded coffee shops across UK high streets.
Mexican brands saw the second strongest area of growth, while other leading sectors included Italian casual dining, healthy quick-service outlets, juice bars, gourmet burger sites and Thai casual dining.
Coffee brands named as making the biggest waves included the five-site Beany Green, which has recently launch an £800,000 bond on crowdfunding website CrowdCube to fund its expansion; the four-strong group Grind, whose sites include a brand in the Hoxton hotel, Holborn; and the Yorkshire-based, eight-site Filmore & Union.
The survey also considered new coffee shop brands such as Ziferblat, which charges customers 5p per minute to sit in its cafes, with superfast Wi-Fi, coffee, cake and biscuits thrown in free of charge; and the Red Kiosk Company, which operates 12 unused red telephone boxes.
When it came to the Mexican-style groups, Chilango, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Benito's Hat, and Barburrito were named as the main players helping spearhead an expansion rate of 146% in the sector over the past three years.
Pret à Manger was named most-admired operator by respondents for the second year running, and praised for consistency, quality and high standards.
However, over two-thirds (68%) of foodservice entrepreneurs who took part in the poll said that property availability was their biggest concern, a significant rise compared with the 38% who said the same last year. Entrepreneurs also noted that it could be a challenge to maintain store and product consistency throughout the growth phase.
Brands with fewer than five sites but with the potential to grow quickly are listed in the survey as Bubbling Under.
Top 10 Ones to Watch
Coffee shop (122 outlets in 2015)
Mexican burrito fast casual (113)
Italian casual dining (102)
Sandwich bar quick service (70)
Healthy quick service (68)
Juice bar (63)
World buffet casual dining (56)
Cosmopolitan casual dining (54)
Gourmet burger casual dining (54)
Thai casual dining (52)
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