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Food & Beverage: Embracing emerging trends

04.06.2018

In Ireland, the Food & Beverage (F&B) market is as competitive as ever. New and emerging trends continue to challenge and disrupt the sector whilst also providing opportunities across our retail destinations for F&B brands.

Diners’ preferences are evolving rapidly as they seek memorable and meaningful experiences and consequently, a clear divide has emerged between brands that give today’s consumers what they want and brands that struggle to meet or adapt to these demands.

Since entering the Irish market in 2015, a key and consistent focus for Hammerson has been to embrace these new emerging trends and support our tenants to develop new and exciting dining experiences across our retail and leisure venues. We continue to implement a proactive asset management strategy that enhances the dining mix and offers the diverse F&B experiences customers want. Brands that can deliver a compelling proposition are consequently an increasingly important part of our tenant mix in Ireland and across our wider portfolio.

The F&B market has often been characterised by high levels of rotation and it is this natural turnover that provides new scope for innovative and emerging brands to make their mark and offer an exciting mix of culinary experiences. The key to success is delivering exceptional customer service and exciting menu choices set within a stimulating and lively environment. Consumers increasingly mix and match between the joy of discovering new brands and the comfort of a reliable chain. This continues to shape the way we approach our tenant mix philosophies and curate our dining offers.

Another key consideration is the new generation of ‘Millennial’ consumers who exhibit notably different characteristics and preferences to the preceding ‘Generation X’.  An increasingly powerful consumer group, Millennials hold ethical, health and wellbeing considerations high in their values. What a brand ‘stands for’ is arguably as important to this generation as the physical offer. Chains and brands that can tap into these elements are most likely to prosper across this new consumer landscape.

At Dundrum, we have reconfigured and repositioned new catering brands such as Chopped, Costa, Kanoodle, Poulet Bonne Femme, as well as new debutants in Ireland; Five Guys and Hotel Chocolat, to enhance the F&B offer. Offbeat Donuts has also joined the line-up and local craft beer favourite P.Mac’s has opened its second Dublin venue. Boojum, The Arctic Stone Rolled Ice Cream and The Amazing Chocolate Workshop have also taken pop-up kiosks.

Within the Pembroke District, fine food emporium, Fallon & Byrne, is set to open a new flagship food hall, delicatessen and restaurant with ‘al fresco’ dining option and new outdoor terrace that will surround the front of the store.

We believe there are fantastic opportunities for Irish-grown food brands and are subsequently evaluating areas that can be transformed into new leisure and dining experiences to excite and delight visitors to Dundrum, cementing the centre as South Dublin’s premier dining venue.

Of course, many large and well-established brands continue to be successful and have rightly earned prominent positions in today’s restaurant market.  Generally, these are the brands that keep offers fresh and remain current by constantly adapting menus and investing to keep fit-outs fresh, relevant and vibrant. Much-loved chicken operator Nando’s would be a great example of a brand that does well across all these dimensions.

The drive to create a diverse and compelling tenant mix remains a key Hammerson objective in Ireland and despite the challenges in the F&B market; significant opportunities remain for brands that are able to offer customers a unique experience that resonates with their minds and palates.