A survey of the tenanted pub sector has shown a further polarisation in fortunes with slightly more than half of respondents trading as expected or better, while 43% are finding trade not meeting expectations.
One in four tenanted pubs have managed to increase turnover — almost double the number in the previous survey.
The results are contained in an exclusive state-of-the-nation survey conducted by CGA Strategy unveiled at the Publican's Morning Advertiser's Tenanted Pub Company Summit on Tuesday.
The survey revealed that 24% of respondents were faring better than expected — up from 17% last year — and 32% are trading as ex-pected with 43% trading worse than expected. A quarter (25%) of respondents had increased turn-over during the year compared to 14% last year.
On the downside, respondents felt that the relationship with their business development manager (BDM) was worse than last year. The average satisfaction score dropped from 6.9 out of 10 in 2010 to 6.3. CGA said this decline is most likely to be driven by the 61% who felt their pub company had not increased its support.
Staff cutbacks have also tailed off. Half (49%) of those questioned said they have not had to cut back on staff as a result of the downturn, compared to 42% last year.
Facebook and Twitter are becoming ever more popular tools. The survey found licensees using email or internet almost doubled over the year from 9% to 17%, and the number of respondents using blackboards, posters and flyers declined 3%.
However, the number of pubs offering live music has seen a massive 20% drop since last year. Only 26% of respondents said they hold live music events, compared to 46% last year. CGA put this down to costs and issues with red tape.
CGA account director Rachel Perryman said: "This year's survey found a generally brighter picture for pubs, but there is clearly further still to go. We were concerned to note a fall in the number of pubs offering music, entertainment and events in a bid to drive footfall. With the emerging threat that pub use is moving from habit to treat, we have to ensure that customers have a reason to get off the sofa, leave the house and visit their local."
Customer survey company him!, which also presented survey results at the summit, found pubco satisfaction levels improved 56%, up from 46% in 2010. However, 68% of respondents said their pubcos could improve its support. Top areas for im-provement included rent and communication.
While 36% of those questioned said they want a frequent visit from their BDM, only 24% said they receive a visit once a month or more, and 45% said they get a visit every three months or less.