Speaking to delegates at yesterday’s (16 February) MA500 event in Birmingham, MCA executive director Simon Stenning said pubs had continued to hold consumer confidence and would see growth in the year ahead.
“We believe that the pub market is in a great place to continue growing,” he said. “All of the actions that needed addressing by pubs – such as quality and choice – in the past have been and that action is having a positive impact, and pubs play a key part in the future of eating out.”
Despite menu prices rising by a total of 8% since the UK voted to leave the European Union last year, the outlook is positive, Stenning added.
“Improved quality and choice are both real drivers of people using pubs more frequently.
“We’re also starting to see the effects of increased pricing coming through, but we can only put prices up if the offer is right,” he said.
Consumers are still willing to pay more for food in a pub, but the pub has to deliver the best experience it can.
Yet, it wasn’t a positive picture for all types of pubs, Stenning warned. Value pubs, for instance, had increased their market share, while mainstream and premium were in decline.
‘Premium pubs slightly down’
Stenning explained: “In terms of value pubs, it’s increasing by 3% [in sales], but premium pubs are slightly down and mainstream is slightly down too.”
While both premium and mainstream were in decline, the former had taken more of a hit as consumers saw mainstream as better value, he added.
In summary, Stenning said: “We have got to meet price rises by putting prices up, but make sure you deliver that experience.”