Casual dining brands with under 25 sites have grown 39% over the past three years, compared to 13% growth for the biggest chains, research by Savills has shown.

The report points out that while eight brands with more than 100 restaurants in their portfolio make up 44% of all casual dining restaurants, almost 80% of the market is made up of brands with fewer than 25 sites.

Savills research shows that smaller brands have added 489 outlets in the past three years, with growth driven by chains such as Wahaca, Red’s True Barbecue and Cau. During the same period, brands with between 25 and 99 sites grew by 288 outlets (34%), while the larger chains added 297 news sites.

David Bell, head of leisure at Savills, said: “The significant growth by the smaller brands emphasises the development we’ve seen in new concepts. These smaller chains have provided consumers with more choice and offered a point of difference in the market, and with this success it is driving them to open more sites around the country. Furthermore with the investment from private equity we could see more brands with the capital to grow.”

In the report Savills research also shows the growth in different cuisines, with North American, Caribbean and Thai cuisines restaurants having the greatest growth over the past four years. The report notes 66% of all North American restaurants opened after 2012, compared to 11% of all pizza restaurants, showing a cultural shift in the UK dining market. (See figure 1).

Tom Whittington, research director at Savills, said: “Post recession we saw a real boom in the leisure market and that meant the demand for new cuisines from the consumer saw a number of new chains emerging such as Turtle Bay, which is Caribbean, and north American causal dining restaurant Red’s.”