As if hamburger-focused concepts in the UK did not already have enough competition, now the Americans are coming, bringing many of their better burger brands across the Atlantic in order to capitalise on one of Britain’s hottest restaurant segments.
In the past year, US chains Burger Fi, Smashburger and Fatburger have announced plans to open their first locations in the UK, joining peers like Shake Shack and Five Guys, which have two and about 30 units in the market, respectively.
The burger business is bound to only get better. According to Technomic’s 2015 Top 100 UKChain Restaurant Report, burger concepts grew significantly in 2014, including a collective sales gain of 5.8% at fast-casual chains and 37.4% at full-service restaurants. What’s more, UK pub culture favours burger sales, even as competition intensifies from emerging casual-dining chains that put the burger front and centreor from the fast-casual segment, which is still in its infancy in the UK.
Burgers remain a fantastic vehicle for culinary innovation and experimentation with new flavours. Meanwhile, chains in the UK, as in the US, have found success in building burger sales by simply marketing their ingredient quality as better and fresher. To date, Gourmet Burger Kitchen has built the largest system of fast-casual burger restaurants, with 63 locations and nearly GBP 50 min total sales at the end of 2014. But the rest of the field is wide open. There are already dozens of like-minded concepts in the United States that have been taking market share from quick-service brands like McDonald’s and Burger King.But those fast-food giants have held up better in the UK than they have in the United States -or even in the rest of Europe, for that matter. Continue reading