Speaking at the Future Pub conference in London last week, Kerridge said people’s attitudes to alcohol were very different from the past, and pubs had to be much more proactive in attracting customers.
He said operators needed to focus on delivering a strong menu and retaining capable and friendly staff to keep on top of business in the coming years.
He said: “One of the biggest issues we have in this industry is staff and how you keep that quality of staff.
“It doesn’t matter if the beer is really good and you have a really well-written menu — if the chef doesn’t have the skills to cook it and the front-of-house staff don’t make eye contact and say hello to people.”
He claimed that creating a sense of personal identity in a venue was key to survival.
He said: “If you look at the best food-led pubs up and down the country like the Star at Harome or Stephen Harris down at the Sportsman in Kent, they’re always individual because when you walk into the pub you get to feel the personality of somebody that’s there.”
But while more and more pubs are gaining Michelin stars, Kerridge said he didn’t expect a pub to be given three stars for the foreseeable future. The Hand & Flowers was awarded its second star in 2011, following its first in 2006 — just 10 months after Kerridge took over.
“There are only four three-star restaurants in the country and they’re all very special. It’s a massive step — never say never but I think we’re probably 10 years away from seeing a three-star pub.”
Overall, Kerridge said the sector was in good shape and the trends were positive for the future.