Liverpool has the most new openings, closely followed by Leeds and Manchester

The hospitality industry in the North is bouncing back better than anywhere else in the UK, according to new research. New openings of restaurants, bars and pubs have been driven by the region’s ambitious local entrepreneurs, as well as national operators, who have invested as the pandemic eases.

Northern hospitality can continue to drive the economy, supporting vital jobs and supply chains.

The findings come from a survey of the UK’s major city centres, which showed that Liverpool leads the bounceback with a 4.4% increase in restaurants, bars and pubs between September 2021 and December 2021. 

The North dominated the list with Leeds in second place on 3.9%, Manchester fourth on 2.5% and Newcastle fifth on 2.3%, all far outstripping the 1.6% growth shown by London.

Barnacle Liverpool New Openings Duke Street Market Vma
Barnacle in Liverpool's Duke Street Market Image: Confidentials

Liverpool top for new openings

With a host of high-profile new openings, including Barnacle, Metrocola, and Bread Street Kitchen in Liverpool, Northern cities are leading the UK in terms of new openings, despite the unprecedented challenges of the past two years. 

The findings come from data compiled by Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB), the North’s hospitality trade exhibition. Edinburgh came third on 3.3%. London came in ninth out of the 14 cities surveyed (core and capital cities, plus Chester and York).

The fact that four of the top five fastest recovering hospitality scenes are in the North neatly echoes recent national hospitality awards, which declared four of the UK’s top five restaurants and four of its top five gastropubs to be in the North of England.

Exterior Of Crimple Food Hall
Crimple Food Hall in Harrogate Image: Lucy Allen PR

Burst of positivity

Thom Hetherington, CEO of Northern Restaurant & Bar, said the findings reflected the strength and resilience of both operators and audiences in Northern cities. 

“Operators in cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds have suffered just like the whole hospitality sector, with huge issues around lockdown costs, lost trading and staffing,” said Thom.  

“So, although this initial turnaround may be small, the direction of travel is a vital and encouraging change. It offers a much-needed burst of positivity to see so many new concepts, sites and launches, and to see happy drinkers and diners flooding through the door.”

Burger And Fries From The Butcher Opening In Manchester Arndale
The Butcher in Manchester Arndale Image: Confidentials

Challenges remain

Although the recent increase in hospitality venues is testament to the tenacity of the sector, Hetherington insists it is no time for complacency. 

“We all understand that challenges remain, which is exactly why NRB is so important.

“With ideas and inspiration from NRB and the right support from government – for example the retention of the VAT reduction – I think Northern hospitality can continue to drive the economy, supporting vital jobs and supply chains whilst also bringing good times to millions of people.”

The data for all of the cities ranked is based on CGA & AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor. CGA have tracked all licensed premises in GB for over 25 years. 

Full Results:

% Growth in selected city centre hospitality sites, Sept 21 – Dec 21*

  • Liverpool 4.4%
  • Leeds 3.9%
  • Edinburgh 3.3%
  • Manchester 2.5%
  • Newcastle 2.3%
  • Chester 2.0%
  • Birmingham 2.0%
  • Glasgow 1.7%
  • London 1.6%
  • York 1.5%
  • Cardiff 1.4%
  • Nottingham 1.5%
  • Sheffield 1.0%
  • Bristol 0.5%

*All data courtesy of CGA.