New food trend means more mall work for dealers

It looks like commercial kitchen fitters could be spending more time in shopping malls in future after a new report highlighted a penchant among food operators for opening outlets in high volume retail locations.

Foodservice consultancy Horizons said operators of fledgling restaurant, cafe and quick service chains are increasingly looking to mirror established names such as Wagamama, Cafe Rouge and Nando’s by securing mall space to showcase their concepts.

It notes that London’s new Westfield Stratford City mall features at least 15 emerging brands, including Balans, Bumpkin, Cabana, Caribbean Scene, Comptoir Libanais and Pinkberry.

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Horizons’ director of services, Paul Backman, said operators were attracted by the high volume of customers in malls, seven-day week opening, long opening hours and the captive market.

“There is a lot of competition amongst food outlets in malls, but securing sites within them is becoming vital for many quick service operators,” he said.

Backman says operators are also increasingly looking at malls as a test bed for establishing whether a particular concept will work in the wider market.

“[Malls] are unforgiving – if a unit doesn’t work within a mall, then it is unlikely to work on the high street, so operators find out quickly whether their concept has staying power,” he said. “Knowing the demographics of each shopping centre enables mall operators, and outlet owners, to take a far more sophisticated approach in targeting their audience with the right offer.”

Horizons, which tracks the fastest growing restaurant brands in the UK, says a number of emerging street food concepts have appeared on its radar, including Wahaca and Luardos (Mexican), Mooli’s (Indian), NOW (Chinese), Street Kitchen and Yalla Yalla (Lebanese), Brazilian churrascaria (rotisserie).

Tea bars, demonstrated by concepts such as Boutea, Leaf tea, Teacup, Tea Monkey and Teapod, as well as British-themed restaurants such as Bumpkin, Canteen and Union Jacks, are also making headway.

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