harrods food hall vegetables

Veganism. Mindfulness. Zero waste. These are the food trends set to dominate the landscape in 2018. But what about food destinations?

Two words: Food halls.

The UK has a strong food hall tradition with the food halls at Harrods Department Store and at Selfridges being early examples dating back almost 150 years. In recent years, a new breed of food halls have started to emerge, closer to those found on the continent. So, what are they? And why are they expected to be a dominating force in the capital this year?

What is a food hall?

A food hall is a space where multiple operators coexist, drawing on a single audience. The produce available is usually diverse, fresh and authentic. The effect is communal, convivial eating and drinking for people of all ages and tastes.

Serving food morning, afternoon and night, often with live entertainment (musical performances, demonstrations, etc.), food halls can draw a 24-hour audience. This makes them appealing to customers with hectic lifestyles, as well as operators who work best with a steady stream of continuous revenue.

Finally, they also offer unmatched variety. Food hall operators are generally operator owned, offering concession, narrow menus that are less common on the high street. However, the bustling nature of the food hall means that operators with narrow menus can thrive.

The by-product of this is a jovial, frenetic atmosphere that creates buzz, whether customers are looking for a grab-and-go or sit-down experience.

 

The invasion is coming

A cursory glance at Pinterest reveals that food halls, particularly in Europe, have been around for years. However, the concept is changing. Whereas, historically, food halls have been more premium, formal spaces, contemporary food halls generally combine the luxury feel of traditional food halls with the bustling, less formal atmosphere found in food markets.

lotte food avenue

At CADA, we recently announced our latest flagship project, a 140,000 sq ft food hall for Lotte in their Jamsil department store. Combining retail, dining and learning, we designed Food Avenue to be a spearhead for the modern food hall movement. Already, the Lotte store team have announced a 40% year-on-year sales growth.

With sales figures like these, it’s no wonder that the concept is being imported to the UK, and London, particularly.

Cushman & Wakefield suggest that no fewer than 16 food halls are planned for London in the coming few years. These include three huge food halls from Market Halls. The West End flagship launches in the autumn in the downstairs of the former BHS building, just off Oxford Street. This coincides with the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.

Of course, London already has several food halls, including Bang Bang Oriental and the Japan Centre, our own design.

japan centre food hall

If you are considering implementing a food hall, general benefits include:

  • Low overheads, high foot flow
  • Turns development into destination though experiential hook
  • Enables operator experimentation and focused menus
  • Appeals to customers’ desire to spend increasing proportion of disposable income on food

To discuss with us how design impacts the sales functionality and atmosphere of food halls, we’d love to hear from you.

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