The MA500 business club, which includes top multi-site pub operators in the UK, is preparing for the latest meeting in Leeds in September.
The city plays host to casual-dining restaurants such as Five Guys, Byron and Las Iguanas along with craft beer pubs including Tapped, Black Swan, Head of Steam and Brewery Tap.
Anthony Kitching, co-owner of Friends of Ham, which has venues in Leeds city centre and in nearby town Ilkley says: “Leeds is an affluent city with people interested in quality alongside a vibrant, creative scene.”
In the past decade, £617m has been invested in the city centre to enhance retail and leisure facilities, with £6bn proposed or in progress.
Kitching adds: “It’s a seven-days-a-week city and people like to enjoy themselves. There are lots of professional companies in the city centre, such as accountancy firms and lawyers, alongside an excellent retail offer that draws people in.
“It has arguably got the best beer scene in the north, the restaurant scene is improving and the market is becoming more and more competitive as each new place opens, so you have to work harder.”
Publican Awards winner New World Trading Company (NWTC) has one of its Botanist sites in Leeds, which took home the Best Bar Team award at 2014’s Great British Pub Awards.
Chris Hill, managing director at NWTC says: “Leeds is an amazing, vibrant, metropolitan city and people appreciate a good time. The student population is important because it means we have solid trade seven days a week and there is a lot of returning trade and loyalty because if you are good, the people of Leeds are loyal.”
Hill added the city has a continuing appreciation of beer, it is clean and well-presented and the residents are grateful for the hospitality offerings. “There is an appreciative population that know a good thing when they see it and are prepared to use it.”
Christian Townsley from Leeds-based North Bar, which runs multiple venues in and around the city, says: “I can’t imagine a site anywhere outside of London that has as diverse a culture.”
He also says that Leeds has a “buzzing atmosphere” and there is a friendly feel to the city along with the huge amount of diversity there.
Leeds hosts an annual four-day international beer festival, now in its fifth year, and Townsley said the city is huge on craft beer. “There is growth opportunity in Leeds and there is the opportunity for growing businesses.”
The city is home to three universities and Leeds festival every year, meaning trade is varied. Townsley explains: “There is a big mix of trade, especially over the weekend, as on a Friday it tends to be those who are Leeds based, but on a Saturday those from the surrounding towns come in early doors, do a bit of shopping and then spend the evening in the city.”