Casual dining brands in the United Kingdom (UK) 2016-2017, by number of units

At 441 restaurants, Pizza Express had the highest number of outlets among leading casual dining brands in the United Kingdom (UK) as of December 2017. Nando’s followed with close to 400 restaurants and Pizza Hut with 265 restaurants. The ranking excluded pub and quick service restaurants, but included brands defined as ‘fast casual’ concepts.

Defining casual dining

Casual dining is a term used for food outlets that can be loosely defined as a moderately priced sit-down restaurant in a casual environment. In contrast to fine dining, they are less expensive and formal, but unlike fast food restaurants they offer more service and usually better-quality food. That said, new concepts and trends have branched out of the sector that include ‘fast casual’ and ‘fine casual’ concepts. In the UK the casual dining market is dominated by restaurant brands. Pizza and Italian style restaurants are among the most dominant, although burger/American style and Asian cuisines are also popular.

The casual dining crunch

Although Britain experienced a boom in casual dining chains in the 2010s, by 2018 the market had become saturated, leading to what many in the industry refer to as the ‘casual dining crunch’. Rising business rates, food costs and rents were blamed for brands struggling with restaurant closures, including Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Strada. The future of the sector will partly depend on changes UK business rates, the potential impact of Brexit and future investment in the sector.
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Leading casual dining brands in the United Kingdom (UK) as of December 2016 and December 2017, by number of units*
Dec 2016Dec 2017
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