Malcolm Scott optimistic about garden centre catering

In the past five years there has been a 20 per cent increase in restaurants (excluding coffee shops, fast food takeaways, sandwich shops and fish and chip shops) says Malcolm Scott Consultants, but does this mean a risk for garden centres?

Scotts said that given the increase in rents now being charged as restaurants clamour for prime positions, and the impact of the living wage, there are doubts as to how much growth there is left in the catering market and indeed whether there will be if not a crash then a slowdown.

He says a lot of this growth - which equates to 14,000 new restaurants across Britain -
is in catering brands which don’t fit the Garden Centre catering model, such as American (burgers) 69 per cent growth +265 outlets, Brasserie 60 per cent growth +266 outlets, British 16 per cent growth +144 outlets, Brazilian 123 per cent growth +32 outlets, Japanese 40 per cent growth +180 outlets Tex/Mex 52 per cent growth +133 outlets, Portugese 42 per cent growth +113 outlets and Turkish 48 per cent growth +126 outlets.

Scotts said: "These brands are fashion-sensitive and designed to attract a younger age profile than Garden Centre customers. What may secure Garden Centre catering from any national catering slowdown is in situations where the catering offer is subordinate to the customer base of the Garden Centre. Where a Garden Centre has invested in catering resources well beyond what its regular customer base is able to support then in these cases the catering offer may be at risk.

"Even here there is still cause for optimism. Garden Centre catering is evolving and owners are taking steps to make it more relevant and appealing to changing customer expectations. Much more emphasis now is on the quality and provenance of the food, the broadening of the appeal to include premium coffee and snacks, good quality and good value hot meals and afternoon tea and cakes. It is doubtful if many of the Restaurants on the high street or in retail parks, for example American (Burgers) or Tex/Mex outlets, are able to appeal to such a wide audience profile or to offer a range of different food options at different times."

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