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  • Peter Backman

Brands to Watch in 2019



With the big B word dominating the news and hanging over our heads, I have most definitely felt the air of uncertainty and trepidation as everyone wonders what the future holds for eating out and the businesses operating in the sector.

But, one thing is for sure, there are some restaurant brands out there that are, in my opinion, worth keeping an eye on. Despite the large number of big brand closures in 2018 fuelled by overcapacity, rising property costs and a failure to keep up with changing consumer demands, there is a positive outlook thanks to some new brands and some older brands that are starting to make a name for themselves.


I keep a close eye on restaurant and quick service brands for investors, operators and major suppliers. I track the lifecycle of brands as they emerge on to the foodservice landscape, experience growth (or decline) and then either remain as stalwarts or fade away and even disappear. Despite the number of brands that I monitor in my Ones To Watch service falling, after what can be perceived as a year of gloom in 2018, it’s refreshing to see some brands heading in the right direction.


It seems cuisines showing the most significant increase are still Far Eastern casual dining – Japanese and Thai, Mexican burrito quick service and Steakhouse casual dining. Other styles showing lower but still meaningful growth are casual dining restaurants based on cosmopolitan, especially Italian, cuisine casual dining, and food to go offers, particularly sweet snacks and artisan bakeries. Meanwhile, coffee shops still hold out promise for investors as they continue to top the list of Ones To Watch in terms of number of brands, outlets and rate of growth.


Black Sheep – the coffee shop chain that ‘leaves the herd behind’ was the fastest growing brand in my Ones To Watch list, measured by percentage growth in outlet numbers. With 19 outlets in London, Manchester and, since last summer, in Manila, it combines kiosks, cafés and coffee and cocktails. Its growth is no doubt down to its ability to understanding the customer, the locality and adapting the offer to meet the demand. There is no big chain ‘one size fits all’ feel to it.


The next big ones to watch were 7Bone – American comfort food brand, Mi Casa Burritos – Mexican Street Food and Synge and Byrne coffee shops.


Although the market is slowing down quite rapidly and the rate of investment is likewise decelerating, the number of units per brand in amongst the ones to watch was higher than six months ago and there was an increase of 73% since 2014 in the overall number of outlets operated, by Ones To Watch, from 945 to 1,634 outlets.


The future may be uncertain but I will be watching with interest to see the journey these brands of the future take in 2019.


If you’d like to chat to me about Ones To Watch in 2019 and beyond, please get in touch.

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