THE bar and restaurant scene in Bradford is powering ahead of London, according to new figures.

Over the past five years, the number of outlets in Bradford city centre has increased by 15.1% as opposed to London’s significantly lower rate of 10.4%, according to analysis from Northern Restaurant and Bar (NRB) and data company CGA.

Retail Business Unit Director of CGA, Jamie Campbell, said London had a much larger restaurant and bar scene “in absolute terms” but said “percentages don’t lie”.

Chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough – a group of senior leaders who aim to make Bradford a better place to live, work and visit – Trevor Higgins, said the findings were “tremendously exciting”.

He said Bradford gave a “different type of offering” and said “we are on the cusp of something exciting, Bradford has turned a corner”.

Statistics from CGA show that chains and larger groups were down by 8.7% over the past five years, whereas independent outlets had seen a rise of 1.4%.

Mr Campbell said growth in the region was being driven by independents.

Mark Husak, co-owner of The Sparrow Bier Cafe, in North Parade, which opened in 2011 and is seen by many as a trend-setter, said he thought its success had given people the confidence to “give it a go”.

He said many had thought The Sparrow would last two months – but on the contrary, the bar celebrates its seventh birthday in May and Mr Husak believed Bradford could continue its success if “people go out and support the open operators”.

He was proud of being an independent and said they were the “way to go” because they were nimble and innovative.

But he warned there was a danger the city could reach saturation point, therefore “operators need to be on top of their game to survive”.

Graham Hall, mastermind behind the Sunbridgewells complex, is trying to do just that. He said it was the only underground location with eight different alcohol licences in Europe. He said they were now attracting regular customers from Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, and as far afield as the Isle of Wight.

Bradford’s growth is further backed by plans for a new wine bar to open in the former Acropolis cafe premises in Landmark House.

NRB runs a trade show for the Northern hospitality industry which is in Manchester today and tomorrow.