Glasgow's food and drink market regains appetite for growth after more than 20 venues debut in 2022

Glasgow’s food and beverage (F&B) market continued to regain post-Covid momentum in 2022, enjoying its strongest activity for five years, while 2023 is set to be “another busy year”, according to a report from estate agent Savills.

The study has found that the city saw activity jump by 15 per cent from 2021, with a total of 80,000 square feet of new space debuting across 23 venues. It also found that about two thirds of transactions involved independent operators, with notable openings in this regard including Fat Lobster, Gost, Devil of Brooklyn, August House and Bao, but national operators also brought new names to Glasgow including Cosmo, Fat Hippo and Mowgli.

“In line with Savills 2022 forecasts, bars as opposed to restaurants proved to be the most prevalent in their search for Glasgow premises, as Innis & Gunn opened a new taphouse on West Nile Street and The Alchemist launched a new cocktail bar on George Square,” it added.

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Savills expects occupier demand in 2023 to remain strong, and said it is presently tracking 15 unsatisfied F&B requirements for Glasgow city centre, typically requiring large properties exceeding 4,000 sq ft.

Additionally, it expects the bulk of transactions to take place in the second half of the year, with St Enoch, the Merchant City, and George Square expected to be the three fastest-developing F&B districts in the city centre. It also sees further competition for top sites around Buchanan Street – near all three of these earmarked locations – “and this could result in rents growing by 10 per cent by the end of 2023”.

John Menzies, retail director at Savills in Glasgow, said: “2023 promises to be another busy year in Glasgow, with well-funded occupiers retaining their appetite for the best-located properties in Scotland’s largest city. These sentiments may sound surprising given the acutely challenging trading picture at present, and the F&B sectors exposure to rising utility costs, the cost-of-living crisis, and the impact of train strikes on city-centre visits.

"With many operators reporting trade down 25 per cent on expectation over the Christmas period, confidence to commit to new properties at the moment is predicated on an underlying optimism that the economic climate will improve as we move past the current year, into 2024 and beyond.”

Savills highlights Innis & Gunn opening a taphouse on West Nile Street as evidence of its prediction that bars as opposed to restaurants would show the strongest demand for Glasgow premises. Picture: Cameron Hudson.

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