Northern cities are leading the UK’s hospitality recovery

Northern cities are now leading the UK in terms of new openings

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 10th March 2022

Northern cities are leading the UK’s post-Covid hospitality recovery, a new survey has revealed, with Manchester named as one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities.

New restaurants openings in cities Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds have all been instrumental to growth, according to data compiled by Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB).

Liverpool currently leads the UK with a 4.4% increase in restaurants, bars and pubs between September 2021 and December 2021, closely followed by Leeds and Edinburgh.

Manchester, meanwhile, comes in fourth with a growth of 2.5% – far outstripping that seen in London, which by comparison has seen a growth of just 1.6% in the past two years.

It suggests that the North is fast becoming a foodie haven, with a host of hospitality operators flocking to open new sites in the North West, Scotland and Newcastle.


With a host of recent high-profile Manchester openings including sports bar BOX, Nells New York Pizza and Bar, and Contact Bar & Kitchen from GRUB, it’s easy to believe.

Read more: The new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this month | March 2022


According to the survey, this growth has been driven by the region’s ambitious local entrepreneurs, as well as national operators, who have invested as the pandemic eases, feeding the growing appetites of both locals and city visitors.

The data for all of the cities ranked is based on CGA & AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor. CGA have tracked all licensed premises in GB for over 25 years. 

Thom Hetherington, CEO of NRB, said the findings reflected the strength and resilience of both operators and audiences in Northern cities: “Operators in cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds have suffered just like the whole hospitality sector, with huge issues around lockdown costs, lost trading and staffing.


Read more: All the Manchester bars shortlisted in this year’s Manchester Bar Awards

“So, although this initial turnaround may be small, the direction of travel is a vital and encouraging change. It offers a much-needed burst of positivity to see so many new concepts, sites and launches, and to see happy drinkers and diners flooding through the door.”

But whilst the recent increase in hospitality venues is testament to the tenacity of the sector, Hetherington insists it is no time for complacency. 

“We all understand that challenges remain, which is exactly why NRB is so important. This is the first opportunity of the year for the industry to come together, to share stories and advice, to meet their suppliers and to source new ones.

“With ideas and inspiration from NRB and the right support from government – for example the retention of the VAT reduction – I think Northern hospitality can continue to drive the economy, supporting vital jobs and supply chains whilst also bringing good times to millions of people.”

Karl Chessell, Director – Hospitality Operators & Food at CGA said, “It is highly encouraging to see some of our key cities re-energised with new investment and openings after an incredibly tough period through the pandemic.

“The recovery is fragile but there are green shoots of recovery and particular in some of the big Northern cities. The role of hospitality is critical in the economic recovery and the social recovery of these vibrant cities.”


The news comes as Manchester prepares to welcome the return of the Northern Restaurant and Bar show on 15 and 1tt March, which will see over 300 operators congregate at the trade show next week alongside a host of guest speakers like Simon Rogan of Greens and L’Enclume.

In what promises to be a huge event for the industry, over 50 timetabled demos and tastings will take place for every area of hospitality, as well as announcements for the 2022 Kuits NRB Top Fifty and Manchester Bar Awards.

Free trade-only tickets for the event are available now here.

Feature image – Commons Wikimedia