City of London and Manchester show signs of Saturation

17th November 2017

City of London and Manchester show signs of saturation, says Imbiba partner: Imbiba investment fund partner Darrel Connell has told a Propel conference that both the City of London and Manchester are showing signs of saturation. Speaking at the Propel Multi Club Conference, he said: “We’re in tricky times from a cost perspective with a lot of inflation but excess supply is almost a bigger factor for us when we look at businesses to invest in. If there are two markets where you can really feel excess supply, one is the City in London. It’s astonishing how many operators have opened in the City since 2009. The Ned has just gone in, which is eight new bar restaurants, and Bloomberg has just opened with seven bar restaurants, it’s a huge influx. The second market is Manchester. I spent some time there a month ago with an operator who has 12 sites in total across various businesses and he reckons that in the last three years, £400m of extra F&B supply has gone into Manchester.” Connell outlined to delegates what companies needed to do to counter the problem. He said: “In a world of excess supply, it’s no longer good enough to serve the best burger or have the best site, you need to be able to drive demand to your venues. There are a number of ways this can be done, firstly with a genuine excellence in product quality. There are few places I would say are consistently excellent and as a result drive demand – one is Padella, a pasta place by London Bridge with queues round the block consistently. It’s seen as very good value. Secondly, there are very few businesses that have genuine brand power. The Ivy is one – the Ivy Brasserie sites that are opening all over the place, they’re generating £200,000-plus sales a week and that’s based on the brand. Soho House’s The Ned – the brand is 9.9 out of ten in my view.” Imbiba is looking to invest in early-stage multi-site companies through its new £50m Growth Fund, whose advisory board includes Karen Jones, Graham Turner and Karen Forrester. Connell said: “Imbiba looks very closely at a business’s strategy to drive demand. Sometimes we meet entrepreneurs who tell us that to drive demand they’re going to ‘hire someone who is 22 who is really good on social media’. That’s not really a strategy.”

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