Published 11 March 2022
The fast growth of industrial dark kitchens is one of the largest changes we’re seeing in the commercial real estate market following the pandemic. Dark kitchen is a concept of setting up a catering service for takeaways only. Delivery orders are placed online – through an application or website. The largest apps of prepared meals delivery in the UK are Uber Eats, Just Eat, Deliveroo. These services have been in the rise for several years but during the pandemic, they experienced stunning growth. In the two years 2000-2021, the number of orders at Just East increased by six times, at Deliveroo – by 2.4 times. This market is now valuated at £11.4 billion in the UK.
We at AZ Real Estate also notice interest in this industry and receive inquiries to source commercial premises for dark kitchens. Below we talk about which types of them are available in the UK and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.
If you are planning to launch a prepared meals delivery service in London, the search for suitable premises can be carried out in two directions:
Flexible rental spaces for dark kitchens
There are several operators in London offering dark kitchens for rent. These are sites that let kitchens from fully equipped options (kitchen equipment, order management system integrated with the deliveries, utilities) to options with a partial set of services (hood, sink, electrical connection points). Such services usually have a fixed price per month for one room (usually 15-50 m2) and a minimum rental period of 6-12 months.
- no capital expenditure
- central location
- building maintenance included
- the ability to interact with delivery service operators (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat).
- price (about £100/sqm per month)
- small room sizes
- the established operating procedures that may not suit all types of businesses
Traditional rental space
It’s a separate warehouse or production facility (light industrial) that is being rented for a period of 5-20 years. If this option is chosen, permits for the organization of food production, as a rule, will need to be obtained additionally. This may be a change in the permitted type of use (use class) of the premises, permission to organize a hood and other types of works. To obtain permits, it is necessary to involve consultants (planning consultants), and to hire a lawyer in order to conclude a lease agreement.
- the ability to do everything for your own needs
- lower rental cost
- the period from finding the site to the launch will be 3-9 months
- capital expenditure
Whichever option you choose, we are happy to help you source the right space for your business. Call or email us for a consultation.