More of London's successful branded restaurant chains are expected to move into the UK regions in 2014, but independent operators may struggle to keep pace.
That's according to property agency Christie + Co's Business Outlook 2014, which also predicted that the casual dining sector is likely to see more private equity deals, of the kind that saw Hutton Collins snap up Byron for £100m, and CBPE Capital buy Cote for £100m last year.
Christie + Co said the restaurant sector was "probably less affected by the recession than even those operating within it had possibly expected". Like-for-like sales increased across the board, while new restaurant openings increased by over 11% through 2013.
It added that the rush of private equity to occupy the restaurant space in the past 12 months has been "at a level not seen since the pre-recessionary period prior to 2008".
He added: "Whether independent operators, and small local and regional groups, can keep pace and compete with the power of the private-equity-backed brands will be interesting to observe. One hopes, for the sake of diversity, that consumers will find enough choice and quality in their local independent establishments."
Elsewhere, Christie + Co forecast an increase in the number of restaurants that offer regional specialist cuisines, with the prospect that a new array of brands will emerge in these areas.
Chaplin said: "The London scene reflects this cosmopolitan and eclectic approach already, but we envisage these tastes of the unique moving increasingly into the regions throughout 2014.
"However, brandless, imageless and dated traditional restaurant concepts are likely to find themselves under yet further pressure in 2014 - not just from branded rival restaurants but from the broader food offering emanating from the higher quality pub chains."