The number of restaurant units in Manchester now stands at more than 150, led by particularly strong growth from upmarket and casual dining operators which have doubled their supply in the city over the last five years, according to international real estate advisor Savills.

Since the end of 2012, 30 new restaurant brands in these two categories have opened in the city, with 14 arriving since the start of 2016, according to the firm’s analysis. El Gato Negro, Grafene and Busaba are among the new arrivals of the past 12 months.

These new restaurants form part of a wider thriving leisure scene in Manchester. Savills analysis of the city centre revealed there are now more than 540 leisure units, including restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and other entertainment venues. Looking beyond restaurants to consider the leisure sector as a whole, a total of 70 new operators have arrived in Manchester since 2012, including 26 which have opened this year.

Increased demand for restaurant space has pushed top rents in prime flagship locations to £40-50 per sq ft (£430-538 per sq m) in Q3 2016 compared to £30-£40 per sq ft (£323-£431 per sq m) five years ago.

John Agnew, retail and leisure director at Savills, comments: “Manchester continues to be a major dining and leisure destination, and the city’s offer has grown significantly in recent years. Our analysis shows that aspirational brands feel at home in Manchester, with many new operators arriving to offer both casual dining and more upmarket experiences. There is truly something to suit every wallet and taste.”

Savills says Deansgate, the Corn Exchange, Spinningfields, Piccadilly and King Street are among the most attractive locations for major restaurant operators, while independents continue to favour the Northern Quarter. For example, Wahaca recently chose the Corn Exchange for its second site in Manchester while Grafene headed for King Street and Shoryu will shortly open in Piccadilly Gardens.

Tom Whittington, retail research director at Savills, adds: “We noted in 2015 that Manchester’s diners were increasingly looking to try new brands and culinary experiences. The figures this year indicate that numerous restaurant operators believe this trend is set to continue. Whilst it is true that some operators have found the city challenging, this is largely due to issues with their individual locations or size of units. Overall, Manchester’s dining and leisure scene is thriving.”

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