Market research

Drink-led venues hit hard by closures

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Drink-led venues hit hard by closures

Related tags Market growth monitor Inflation

Drink-led venues have been hit hard by closures, with the sector shrinking by 1.2% in 2015, according to the Market Growth Monitor from AlixPartners and CGA Peach.

But the decline is a slowdown in the context of a 12.6% fall over the last five years.

Competition from restaurants

While drink-led pubs are struggling and closing at an alarming rate, the monitor found the restaurant sector is growing by 1.6%.

The net result is that Britain had just over 124,000 licensed premises in December - up by 0.1% in 2014.

The fact restaurants have driven the licensed trade into growth will be of little consolation for pubs, and the overall growth of the licensed sector has fallen from previous monitors.

And the results have come with a warning that the ‘boom’ in restaurants may not last forever.

Pub closures

This year’s results found that a net of 808 drink-led sites were lost last year, which adds weight to the Campaign for Real Ale’s research which found a total of 27 pubs closed a week​.

The report concluded that the decline is due to a fragile consumer confidence and to the availability and costs of property.

Last year the Coffer Peach Business Tracker measured 1.5% growth​ for managed pub and restaurant businesses in 2015, well down on the 2014 figure of 2.8%.

That result, combined with the monitor, has prompted speculation that although many casual dining chains continue to expand, even restaurant supply may soon start to outstrip demand in some places.

Bubble to burst?

CGA Peach vice president Peter Martin said: “The casual dining sector remains buoyant, with established names rolling out and a steady flow of new concepts arriving to keep them on their toes.

"But with the pace of openings slowing, our latest Market Growth Monitor will give pause for thought to anyone who thinks the boom will last forever. Competition for market share is fiercer than ever, and the risk of saturation is likely to be an increasingly pressing issue this year.”

'Ebb and flow'

AlixPartners managing director Paul Hemming said: “While the MGM data shows a slowing of new openings, it’s important to remember this is a net figure. It does not capture the ebb and flow of existing sites changing hands between operators, and the on-going march of the multi-site branded operators taking market share from independents.

“That said, it is inevitable that site expansion will at some point slow, especially against the fierce expansion rate of recent times. It is becoming increasingly hard to find good sites at economic rents. With the backdrop of wage inflation, it’s is also difficult for operators to improve their operating margins, so many will just have to accept a lower return on capital as they grow.”

The AlixPartners and CGA Peach Market Growth Monitor is compiled quarterly from data supplied by CGA’s Outlet Index, a continually updated database of all licensed premises. 

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