Over the past few years, fast food has had a make-over. No longer do fast food meals comprise of a greasy burger made out of the cuts of meat normally reserved for I’m a celebrity and some pallid and sad-looking french fries. Now, you can choose your food across breakfast, lunch and dinner and across many different cuisines, countries and persuasions (even vegan!). The biggest change for these brands however has been a move towards fresher, cleaner food and even in some cases, healthy!
As we welcome in the new year, we got thinking about our favourite fast food joints (some of which we are lucky enough to call clients) and started wondering who had enjoyed a year of growth in 2017. So, looking at a combination of increases in numbers vs % growth, we have comprised a list of the top five take-away restaurants that are classified under ‘Fast Food Take Away’ in LDC’s retail and leisure 600k-strong database.
Without further ado, let’s see who’s at number 5:
Tortilla (13% growth over 2017)
First on our list, we have Mexican eatery and burrito brilliance that is Tortilla. Husband and wife team Jen and Brandon Stephens founded Tortilla in London in 2007 after struggling to find a decent burrito in the capital. 10 years plus down the line and they have gone from strength to strength, offering ‘honest’ tacos and burritos using fresh ingredients and last year were made Zagat’s #1 Mexican restaurant in London. Congratulations to them!
Whilst in 2017, they added four new stores to their growing brood, this equates to 13% growth when viewed as part of their whole estate, a feat made more impressive by the fact that they also added four to their estate in the previous year (then at a 15% growth rate) taking them from 27 stores to their current count of 35.
So how have these guacamole loving taco creators achieved this excellent (and seemingly sustainable) growth two years in a row?
Firstly, let’s look at Tortilla’s current estate to see if this holds the key to their success.
Figure 1: Map of Tortilla locations across GB. (Source: LDC)
Tortilla as it stands are pretty London-centric, and as this is where they first opened, this is unsurprising. Approximately 30% of their stores are currently located in the capital, with the rest of the estate dotted across Great Britain, from the most Northernly store in sunny Glasgow, right down to the colourful streets of Brighton.
Figure 2: Health Index scores for Tortilla's estate. (Source: LDC)
Of their 35 strong estate, looking at the health index of the locations of these stores, we can see that Tortilla have opted for locations that are very ‘healthy’ indeed. This score is one of LDC’s most powerful tools when looking at the viability of locations for our clients and is based on a mix of indices including charity shop presence, occupancy rates and anchor retailers, department store and cinema presence. This index can be customised as brands all value different things very differently resulting in a different picture of ‘health’. For more information on our health index, click here.
From Figure 2 we can see that a massive 73% of Tortilla’s estate is within locations that have a health index of 7 or over, which is an above average health index score. Proof that tacos are healthy?
Figure 3: Split of Tortilla's estate by location type. (Source: LDC)
Across the location types that LDC surveys, an overwhelming majority of Tortilla’s stores are on high streets or in shopping centres, with no stores at all situated on retail parks and only 1 in an out-of-town location.
This is in contrast to many of the other, larger fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC etc. who both have significant presence on retail parks across GB (63% and 69% respectively of KFC and McDonalds’ estates are located on retail parks and often include drive-thru facilities that Tortilla does not currently offer). This shows that Tortilla are very much a high street brand, and potentially are looking to serve the commuter and working population, more so than those looking to pass the drive thru on the way home.
Focusing on the recent growth of this brand, what locations have Tortilla opted for?
Tortilla opened four new stores over 2016, spread across the country in Bristol (within the Cribs Causeway Shopping Centre), Glasgow (within the Silverburn Shopping Centre), one store in Guildford, and one in London (both in high street locations).
They followed a similar pattern in 2017, again opening four new stores, two within shopping centres (The Bentall Shopping Centre in Kingston-Upon-Thames and Intu Eldon Square in Newcastle) and then two more were opened in London in Putney and Dalston.
Image 1: Tortilla, Putney. (Source: LDC)
What we can see from these openings is a location strategy focusing on high footfall areas such as larger shopping centres and high streets that are enjoying an above average health index, which is in line with the majority of their other, successful stores.
New Shopping Centre Locations for Tortilla
Cribs Causeway – Health Index 7
Silverburn Shopping Centre – Health Index 8
Bentall Shopping Centre – Health Index 7
Intu Eldon Square – Health Index 8
From these few indices, we can see that Tortilla choose their new locations very wisely. Outside of London, they are selecting locations in areas where people are more likely to have some spare cash to spend, but with Tortilla’s reasonable price points, perhaps they become the food-to-go brand of choice, compared to some of the other, pricier brands.
From our data it seems as though they are keen to grow their estate within shopping centres but are choosing centres that align with their brand values and are likely to attract their younger, fashionable target market. We hope that 2018 spells out more success for Tortilla and they continue to provide the people of GB with more delicious and fresh Mexican food.
Next time we will look at the growth of chicken specialist Pepe’s Piri Piri. For information on how we can support the growth of your business or brand or to find out more about the power of our location insight tool, LDO, get in touch with the team by emailing us at email@example.com or calling us at the LDC offices - 0203 111 4393.