The high-street restaurant sector is about to undergo a seismic shift as shopping centre developers move in to colonise city centres, a leading food service consultant has warned.
Speaking at a Fiftytwenty event last week Jonathan Doughty, managing director of Coverpoint, said with out-of-town developments of the scale of Manchester's Trafford Centre effectively outlawed developers were now targeting city centres.
"This will change the gravity of the high street forever," said Doughty.
Doughty pointed to the emergence of massive new developments such as London's Westfield, which opens later this year, as examples of an irreversible shift to town and city centre development and the blueprint for the next decade.
"This year there will be some eight million square feet of retail space opened in towns and cities across the UK. This is a huge difference to what has happened up until now and represents serious competition for high street operators."
Doughty said that while there were huge opportunities to be seized for restaurants the stakes had been raised as brands discarded by shopping centre managers would be left out in the cold to struggle.
The consultant urged operators, if they hadn't already, to start talking to these landlords who are themselves becoming increasing savvy about the style, mix and image of the restaurants they want in their premises.
By Chris Druce
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