Pret A Manger is the brand other foodservice business operators most admire, that's according to a new survey on "brands to watch".
The latest Ones to Watch survey (April 2015) from leisure consultancy Horizons polled high-street company founders and chief executives, and found that Pret A Manger was quoted as the the high street's most-admired brand, primarily for its consistency and high standards. Other most-admired brands included Nando's and Itsu, alongside Starbucks and Innocent Smoothies, which were favoured for their wide appeal.
The survey also found that foodservice company operators are optimistic about the future of their business, with 54% of those asked were planning to open more than five outlets in the next year. This marks a significant rise from 35% saying the same in last year's survey results.
Shopping centres, transport hubs and retail parks were in most operators' sights, with 86% saying they had shopping centres in mind for expansion (in March 2015, compared with 47% in October 2014), 83% saying transport hubs (compared with 24%) and 63% focusing on out-of-town retail parks (compared with 18% last year).
The UK's fastest growing brands and trends
The survey also found that Birmingham-based burrito brand Wrapchic was the UK's fastest growing brand, having opened 10 outlets since its launch in 2012, with plans to double its estate. This was followed by Chozen Noodle, which now has 15 venues compared to four in 2013, and dessert brand Creams Café, which has grown from four sites in 2012, to 17 this year.
Burger group Five Guys topped the list as having the highest number of openings in the survey, having opened 23 new sites - plus three more since the poll â' since summer 2013, with plans to grow to 175-200 UK sites overall.
Italian casual dining, Mexican burrito brands, and healthy quick service outlets were identified as the top trends to watch, alongside smaller concepts such as coffee shops and steakhouses.
Horizons foodservice analyst Nicola Knight questioned the UK market's ability to cope with such strong expansion long term, but remained positive about the industry as a whole.
She said: "The fact these small brands have stepped up their expansion plans is great news for the UK's hospitality sector, [as it] shakes up the market by bringing new concepts to the public and challenges existing operators."
To qualify for consideration in the Ones to Watch survey, a brand must have between five and 25 outlets, and a growth in outlet numbers of at least 20% in the past three years. There are 141 new brands in the latest list, a rise on 132 in October 2014.
Brands with fewer than five sites are listed as "Bubbling Under" brands, with 409 names identified in this category in April 2015, compared with 235 in April 2014.