Manchester helps lead the fight back against chains with independent restaurant growth

Despite Manchester consumers’ fears that the city is becoming increasingly homogenised with more and more restaurant and bar chains springing up, new research commissioned by hospitality trade show Northern Restaurant & Bar has shown that the city is still enjoying increased growth within the independent bar and restaurant sector.

The research, produced in partnership with CGA, the leading hospitality data and insight company, classed Manchester independents as ‘operators having less than three sites’, and focused only on cities with ‘over 100 independent restaurant sites’.

The study showed that Manchester enjoyed a 3.1% increase in the number of independent restaurants over the last three years.

Three Year Growth in Number of Independent* Restaurants in Major** UK Cities

  • Leeds                 12.8%
  • Newcastle           12.8%
  • Nottingham         12.5%
  • Cardiff                 11.6%
  • Leicester             11.3%
  • Birmingham         8.7%
  • Sheffield              8.5%
  • Glasgow              8.2%
  • London                7.4%
  • Bristol                  7.2%
  • Liverpool             6.5%
  • Manchester         3.1%
  • Southampton       2.5%
  • Edinburgh           1.6%
  • York                     0.9%

*Operators with <3 sites **Cities with >100 independent operator sites each year

According to Thom Hetherington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant & Bar, the Manchester city centre market is becoming more stable and sizable revealing three key trends.  He says, Brilliant independent operators such as Rudys, Pollen and Caffe Lupo are taking off-piste sites on the edges of the traditional city centre; entrepreneurial operators including the likes of Hispi, Levanter and  Sugo are choosing to set up in the suburbs where the financials are easier and many actual “indies” epitomized by the likes of Black Dog, Almost Famous and  Salvi’s have done so well in Manchester that they now have a handful of sites, meaning they feel outside the definition within the survey – they were single site start-ups 5-10 years ago, but now have 3-5 sites or more.”

Despite high streets having a torrid time the figures clearly show consumers are hungry to support smaller local restaurant operators with Manchester, along with Edinburgh, operating at least twice the number of independent restaurants of any other provincial city.

Visitor registration to NRB is at record levels, with many exhibitors and visitors from around the Manchester city-region, due to attend, demonstrating the confidence and ambition of operators in the area.

Hetherington continues “London still stands apart in terms of the scale and depth of its restaurant scene, but escalating costs mean the regions, and places like Manchester in particular now offers genuine opportunity for ambitious operators.”

Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cardiff and Leicester all led the indie restaurant growth chart with double digit growth figures. Sheffield also performed well with 8.5% growth, beating London’s 7.4%, with Liverpool close behind on 6.5%.

Although not included in this specific survey, smaller cities also performed well, with Sunderland and Hull topping the overall national charts with incredible growth rates of 23.4% and 17.2% respectively, the latter benefiting from the interest generated by its recent “UK City of Culture” award.

The continued boom in ambitious, independent restaurants and bars across the North of England is driving Northern Restaurant & Bar, the North’s biggest hospitality show, to record-breaking levels. The exhibition returns to Manchester Central on 21-22 March for its 17th year. The show welcomes 300 exhibitors, 7,500 industry professionals and includes the NRB Debate (Tues 21 March), the prestigious NRB Top Fifty Awards and a programme of events hosted by organisations including Pro-Manchester, Action Against Hunger and CityCo. Hospitality professionals can register now for free tickets online at

For further information about the exhibition visit Follow them on twitter, facebook & Instagram and watch last year’s videos

The research was conducted on behalf of the Northern Restaurant & Bar exhibition by CGA Strategy, the world’s leading business intelligence and strategic consultancy provider for the Out Of Home Leisure market.



Related articles

Subscribe to our Newsletter

For how we use personal data see our privacy policy.