Leeds leading the way for independents

Bundobust, Mill Hill, Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
Bundobust, Mill Hill, Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
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The independent food scene in Leeds is putting its money where its mouth is after ranking as the top place in the UK for growth in the sector.

Sharing the accolade with Newcastle, Leeds has seen a 12.8 per cent increase in independent restaurants (operators with three or less sites) in the last three years.

London only fared ninth in the results of the latest research poll, while other northern cities lagged behind. Sheffield saw an 8.5 per cent increase and Manchester a lower 3.1 per cent.

The results of the research, commissioned by hospitality trade show Northern Restaurant & Bar, fly in the face of suggestions Leeds is becoming saturated with restaurant and bar chains.

Thom Hetherington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant & Bar show, said: “Despite high streets having a torrid time, figures show consumers are hungry to support smaller local operators, with Leeds performing particularly well.

“London still stands apart in terms of the scale and depth of its restaurant scene, but escalating costs mean places like Leeds offer genuine opportunity for ambitious operators.”

The information has been welcomed by the Leeds Independent Food and Drink Academy - hosting the Leeds Indie Food festival in May.

Matt Dix, director, said: “Leeds has always had a strong independent food and drink scene, and we started Leeds Indie Food because we thought that needed celebrating.

“We’re seeing diverse openings all the time, and we get a buzz from being able to show off new independent talent.”