Experts predict rapid growth in casual dining

24 April 2008 by
Experts predict rapid growth in casual dining

The UK casual dining market will be worth £4.7b by 2011 (2007: £3.8b) as the nation's appetite for a quick, cheap and consistent dining experience grows, experts have predicted.

A new report from OC&C Strategy Consultants suggests that branded chains will be the main driver of the rapid growth, as the likes of Wagamama, Strada and Gourmet Burger Kitchen become household names along with such brands as Pizza Express and Nando's.

Branded chains currently account for 30% of the total casual dining market, with independent Italian, Chinese and Indian restaurants dominating, but high margins, quick customer turnover and low operational costs mean branded operators will expand their estates at "a phenomenal rate", the report says.

Nicholas Farhi, retail practice associate director at OC&C, told Caterer: "Chains will constitute all of that growth. They have worked out how to deliver consistency across their estates and tick the ‘authenticity' box."

The wider acceptance of eating out on a regular basis and the relative increase in personal wealth in the past few years mean that the market is far from saturated, according to Farhi. He added that the economic slow-down will have a minimal impact on casual dining operators.

"People will still want to eat out they will just want to do it cheaper," Farhi said. "These are high-margin businesses that can sustain high-margin pressures."

What UK diners like to eat

  • Pizza/pasta 87%
  • Chinese 80%
  • Traditional British 77%
  • Indian 76%
  • Thai 66%

Source: OC&C survey of 1,000 diners

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By Christopher Walton

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