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Wed 25th May 2022 - Food and drink sales in Britain’s cities back in growth but footfall ‘some way off’ pre-covid levels
Food and drink sales in Britain’s cities back in growth but footfall ‘some way off’ pre-covid levels: Restaurants, pubs and bars in Britain’s major city centres are achieving solid growth in sales from pre-covid levels, new research from CGA and Wireless Social has showed. The joint “Top Cities” report combines CGA’s sales data with device log-in data from Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social to provide a “vibrancy” ranking of Britain’s ten most populous cities over the four weeks to 7 May 2022. It showed nine of the ten cities recorded higher sales over the four-week period than in the same period in 2019. Bristol tops the list of most vibrant cities, and sales growth was also above 8% in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. In the longer run, Manchester and Liverpool have achieved the highest sales growth since the start of the “Top Cities” research in late 2021. These two cities have picked up where they left off before covid, when CGA research showed hospitality was achieving some of its strongest sales growth and new openings there. However, log-in volumes in all ten cities remain well below 2019 – an indication that sales growth is being driven by higher spend and increased prices rather than by more frequency. The report also showed London’s sales remain short of 2019 levels, though with more commuters and tourists returning, the capital is getting closer to growth. CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “We continue to see a release of pent-up demand, especially for late-night dining and drinking, and the steady return of workers to offices has been a welcome boost. However, footfall remains some way off what might be expected at this time of year, and covid issues have been swiftly followed by intense cost pressures on businesses and consumers alike. While the long-term outlook for city-centre hospitality is good, significant challenges lie ahead.” Julian Ross, founder and chief executive of Wireless Social, added: “While it’s great to see sales activity ahead of 2019 in some parts of the country, it is concerning that London has fallen back down these rankings from the growth it experienced last month. The shift to flexible working, with the majority of office workers still spending part of the week at home, has hit the capital hardest.”

Digital immersive arts experience to launch in London with F&B offering from Rhubarb, plans global roll out across major cities: Digital immersive arts experience, Frameless, is to open in London this autumn with food experience brand and events caterer Rhubarb appointed to develop the hospitality offering. Covering 30,000 square feet, the attraction will be a multi-genre and multi-artist experience, featuring iconic masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Canaletto, Rembrandt and Klimt. Situated in the newly developed Marble Arch Place in the West End, the experience will be laid out across four differently themed galleries and presented using 4K projection technology. Rhubarb will operate the cafe bar, which will open all day and have a menu that will evolve from breakfast bites through to poké bowls and sandwiches, up until the evening menu of sharing boards and a selection of drinks. Afternoon tea will be art-inspired and have a theatrical element. Frameless is being brought to life by a collaboration of leaders in the technology, arts, architecture and experiential events sectors, including the creative team from FiveCurrents. It holds 15 Olympic credits to its name, including the London 2012 ceremonies. London will be the first Frameless site, with plans to roll out multiple attractions in major cities around the world over the next five years. Richard Relton, chief executive at Frameless, said: “Frameless truly encapsulates art being all around us and it’s exciting to be a part of the ever-evolving, immersive entertainment market that’s growing so rapidly post-pandemic.” PB Jacbose, chief executive of Rhubarb, added: “The cafe bar at Frameless has been designed to be a destination in its own right and will have a menu that is reflective of the immersive environment.” Founded in 2016, as well as catering at some of the world’s biggest events, Rhubarb has a portfolio of restaurants and bars including Fenchurch Restaurant, Darwin Brasserie, Sky Pod Bar, City Garden Bar, Pilot’s Kitchen Bar and Verdi's Italian Kitchen in London.

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