The leisure and hospitality brands finding success post-lockdown and the ‘return of the suburbs’ - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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The leisure and hospitality brands finding success post-lockdown and the ‘return of the suburbs’

The leisure and hospitality brands finding success post-lockdown and the ‘return of the suburbs’

16th July 2020 - Published by Kuits licensing team

While little is certain as to what the longer term future holds for leisure brands, the majority of operators have begun to take tentative steps to re-open in line with current social distancing guidelines and we are already seeing some optimism and, in some cases, even a return to pre-lockdown takings.  

Here, head of leisure for Kuits, Felicity Tulloch, offers her insight into where hospitality operators are finding the most success, as well as the opportunities emerging for out-of-town brands.  

Successful operators are taking advantage of outdoor space 

When hospitality venues were allowed to re-open on 4 July, many operators rushed to take advantage of outdoor areas to enlarge the space they have available to increase their capacity while maintaining compliance with social distancing guidelines. In addition, early reporting suggests that the public feels safer outdoors, so it makes sense for brands to take advantage of outdoor space over the summer months.   

For those who still haven’t obtained the necessary licensing permissions required to open their outdoor spaces, local authorities across the country are looking at ways of streamlining the application process, and in some cases waiving fees for Street Café licences.  

We have also been helping clients with requests to the council to pedestrianize stretches of road outside their venues to enable their patrons to spill out into these areas, with success.  

And what if you don’t have any outdoor space?  

If you don’t have outdoor space available at your premises, you could consider additional opportunities for a pop-up venue in spaces already licensed to host such activities. Many commercial developments and council-owned land will have licensed their outside spaces for events and pop-up activities and may be open to approaches from brands.  

If you can’t bring the public to you, consider whether you would want to bring your brand to them using ecommerce sites such as Deliveroo or setting up an at-home food and drink offering your customers can order via your website or by email. We have seen a huge increase in the number of premises that have switched to an online model during lockdown.  However, special licensing permissions may be needed for such activities, so you should always check first with a licensing lawyer 

The rise of the suburban operator 

For some years, city centres have been the place to be for leisure brands, with hot competition for spaces in new developments or those that have become available in areas of significant footfall. However, as city centres remain quieter than usual, there is undoubtedly an opportunity for neighbourhood bars and local restaurants in the suburbs to tap into a larger market 

Suburban operators are more likely to have outdoor space in abundance, in addition to more plentiful car parking space for those less confident about travelling via public transport into the city centre. Logic would have it that if drinkers prefer to stay local and frequent smaller premises, closer to home, this could initiate a real resurgence in the popularity of the neighbourhood bar.  

In addition, with the expected prolonged increase in the demand for click & collect and delivery services, being located amongst the market you serve means service can be quicker and higher quality than city centre locations providing food that has further to travel. 

Together with a drop in the expected number of city centre workers over the coming months (and possibly on a more permanent basis), the opportunities for established and new suburban brands are clear, and we are already helping a number of traditionally city centre brands make their move out of town. 

Opening a venue in the suburbs – with great privilege comes greater regulation 

Of course, with suburbs come residents – and there is often a conflict between licensed premises and their neighbours, particularly around the issue of noise. Again, a licensing lawyer experienced in these issues can provide crucial help in overcoming such objections should they arrive during your application process or anytime in the future.  

Some suburban areas are also heavily regulated from a licensing perspective. Forexample, Fallowfield and Withington – two trendy areas in Manchester with large student and young professional populations – have for many years been subject to special policies, making the grant of new licences in those areas very difficult.  

However, we are already seeing evidence to suggest local authorities may take a more relaxed approach to the granting or variation of licences in such areas in order to support the industry and re-activate the economy of the area – again, providing increased opportunity for new operators to move in or for existing suburban brands to extend their opening hours and vary other conditions on their licence.  

Established city centre brands are already engaging us to help them take their brand out into the suburbs to quickly take advantage of the many opportunities there. To discuss the opportunities available to your brand, please contact Felicity Tulloch on 0161 838 7804 or email

Join us for our upcoming ‘The Return of the Suburbs’: leisure and hospitality in a post-lockdown world webinar on Wednesday July 29th at 2pm. Register here.

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