In a year marked by the cost-of-living crisis and escalating business rates, hospitality vendors in the North have demonstrated growth and resilience over the past year, averaging 7.2 per cent sales growth.

New research conducted by Northern Restaurant & Bar in partnership with CGA by NielsenIQ reveals how York emerges as a standout performer, beating the national average in sales growth (8.1 per cent) among managed pubs, bars, and restaurants.

The city has witnessed a plethora of noteworthy new establishments including multi-award-winning chef Tommy Banks, born and raised in the small village of Oldstead, achieving not one, but two top 100 listings for his restaurant with rooms, The Black Swan, on the edge of the North York Moors and fine dining offering Roots, in the heart of York.

Despite a 2.5 per cent decline in total venue numbers across the British pub, bar, and restaurant sector in the latest year to October, the industry remains dynamic, witnessing an average of 48 new openings per week. This ongoing activity signals a significant level of renewal.


Business leaders are also generally optimistic about the prospects of their own business in the next 12 months. This sentiment is stronger in the north, where 59 per cent of leaders expressed confidence in the sector, compared to 51 per cent in the south.

Cities such as Liverpool (-0.8 per cent), Newcastle (-1.2 per cent) and Chester (-1.0 per cent) have proven more resilient than London (-2.2 per cent) and the national average, in terms of the number of outlets, whilst York reports a 4.7 per cent decline. With over a quarter (26 per cent) of new openings in the North, this resilience is particularly noteworthy against a backdrop of rising energy prices, food and drink inflation, and increased National Living Wages.

Sarah Czarnecki , President, York & North Yorkshire Chamber, who has just stood down as Vice-chair of HAY (Hospitality Association York), said: “While it is gratifying to learn York is among the best-performing cities in the North of England when it comes to sales growth, the reality is that the sector still faces significant challenges.

“The latest data in our Quarterly Economic Survey indicates that the hospitality industry nationally may well already be in recession and businesses are still facing enormous overheads and issues around staffing.

“Our Chamber Hospitality Forum is calling for a reduction in VAT payments for the sector akin to those we saw during the aftermath of Covid. This is quick and simple relief that could help so many much-loved firms remain viable during these challenging times.”

The research also found consumer sentiment across the country is also positive, with 4 in 5 stating that they are satisfied with the quality of the overall experience during recent visits to pubs, bars and restaurants. A higher percentage of customers in the north are ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of food, service, drinks and overall experience, than the south. This is a likely contributing factor to the ongoing resilience in the North - a content and satisfied customer base.

The research also found how experience-led concepts are well positioned to thrive in the next 12 months. Northern businesses like Mission Mars, Roxy Leisure and Graffiti Spirits Group are not only shaping a dynamic hospitality landscape in the north but also rapidly expanding to other regions. Their success underscores a broader trend within the industry, where unique and immersive experiences are becoming key drivers of customer engagement and business expansion.

Siobhan Thompson, Event Manager for NRB24, commented: “The results underscore the strength, resilience, and ambition of Northern hospitality establishments. Despite shared challenges in the sector, operators in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Newcastle have demonstrated innovation and optimism in the face of issues such as rising utility prices, food inflation, and staffing concerns. While challenges persist, it’s heartening to witness the industry’s adaptability and positivity. The surge in new concepts, site launches, and the enthusiastic influx of customers through the doors offer a much-needed burst of positivity.”

“NRB plays a crucial role as the first opportunity of the year for the industry to unite, offering support and a platform to celebrate Northern hospitality. It serves as an invaluable space for forward-thinking operators to share stories, exchange advice, and connect with suppliers, fostering innovation and inspiration. With brilliant operators, hopefully fueled by ideas and inspiration from NRB, I know Northern hospitality can continue to thrive.”

Northern Restaurant & Bar, the first major hospitality event of the year, returns to Manchester Central on 12th-13th March , which will bring together over 8,500 visitors and 300+ exhibitors for two days of business, networking, and education.