Network Rail, which owns and manages 17 of Britain’s biggest stations, has reported a 3.85% rise in sales for the three months to the end of September, driven by strong growth across its food and beverage categories. Bars reported growth of 10.4% during the period, followed by specialist food retailers up 10.2% and restaurants up 6.78% on the previous year. The company said that a number of pubs across its network would be re-branded over the year, including the introduction of a real ale pub, The Beer House at Charing Cross. In January, Mi Casa, a new Mexican restaurant, will be opening in Victoria Station and at Liverpool St the old Food Court will be closing to enable the introduction of a new 4,500sq ft gastropub called The Merchant of Bishopsgate. SSP will be developing the new pub and restaurant offers. The figures were compiled from the results of retailers operating from over 540,000 sq ft of retail space benefiting from a combined annual footfall of over a billion. Out of these stations, Gatwick Airport (+31.1%), Waterloo (+10.5%) and Birmingham New Street (+5.8%) achieved the best results for the period. Next year, Network Rail will be launching nearly 50,000 sq ft of new retail space at King’s Cross and Waterloo stations. Network Rail’s head of retail Gavin McKechnie said: “Our figures continue to outperform the high street in this challenging economic climate thanks to investment in rail and growth in passenger numbers, providing retailers with a competitive trading environment in stations. “During the current economic downturn our retailers, and food and beverage operators, are working especially hard to provide the right level of service and convenience to make our customers still want to use us as a first choice.” “We are always looking at new opportunities to improve the retail offer by creating more space and introducing a wider choice of brands to our stations. Next year we’ll be launching nearly 50,000 sq ft of new retail space at King’s Cross and Waterloo stations. We’re working with some exciting new retailers who are keen to benefit from the robust trading environment our stations offer and will be announcing the new brands at the beginning of next year.”

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