Leon to open branch in Leeds as demand grows for healthy fast food

Leon is coming to Leeds. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leon is coming to Leeds. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A healthy fast food chain plans to open a branch in Leeds as part of its growth strategy.

Leon has posted a fifth year in a row of growth as consumers flocked to the healthy fast food chain for vegan and vegetarian food.

Total sales in 2018 were up 24.5 per cent to £95m, boosted by the opening of nine new restaurants.

The expansion created 270 jobs and took the brand to the US, Norway and Spain for the first time.

Underlying performance at existing sites was also strong, with like-for-like sales 15.2 per cent higher. Adjusted earnings remained steady at £3.5m for the overall business, though in the UK earnings jumped 8.3 per cent.

John Vincent, chief executive and co-founder, said: “2018 was a strong year for Leon. Against a tough backdrop for our industry, our fantastic team showed that when you have a great menu, excellent service and welcoming locations, people will come.”

Changing diets among UK consumers provided a boost for Leon last year, with vegetarian food accounting for 46 per cent of sales, and within that 34 per cent were vegan.

The trend looks set to continue, with vegetarian options accounting for 64 per cent of sales by January 2019 and more than half of all food sold was vegan.

The brand’s rapid growth comes at a time of uncertainty for the restaurant industry, with casual dining brands such as Giraffe, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Prezzo all shuttering sites.

Mr Vincent added: “Seeing the business deliver 18 consecutive months of like-for-like growth whilst opening a further nine restaurants shows we’re responding to the challenge in the right way.”

New openings in the pipeline planned by the firm include Wimbledon, London’s Southbank, Leeds and Dublin’s Temple Bar.