A CGA Peach survey taken straight after the Brexit result showed that only 24% of business owners in the pub trade were optimistic about the market. But when the same survey question was asked again this month, 68% of business owners said they were optimistic about the trade - close to three times as many as last summer.
The result comes as Prime Minister Theresa May is set to begin the formal process to withdraw Britain from the EU by triggering Article 50 on Wednesday of this week (29 March).
More than half of the survey respondents said that they were yet to see the effects of the referendum on their business.
And almost three quarters, 71%, of the business leaders - who between them operate more than 20,000 pub, bar and casual dining outlets - said they were neither ‘concerned’ nor ‘very concerned’ about Brexit.
Despite this, there is substantially less confidence in the market now than there was a year ago. In February 2016, 83% of pub operators were optimistic about the trade, in comparison to 68% now.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, met with Brexit ministers twice a month to discuss the effect Britain leaving the EU will have on the hospitality industry.
Reacting to the survey, she called for transparency from the Government to capitalise on the trade’s optimism.
“An organic optimism seems to be emerging, which can only be good for investment prospects,” she said. “The sector, however, still needs increased information and transparency. There is a chance for employers to capitalise on some of their optimism, but we need a transparent and workable plan going forward.”
Despite the pub trade’s optimism ahead of Brexit, the survey showed that there is much less optimism about the effect that the business rates revaluation will have on the trade, with almost four fifths (79%) of business leaders concerned.
April will see an average increase of 15% in business rates for licensees, with south-east and high-turnover pubs set to be particularly badly affected.
CGA Peach’s survey showed that London operators were the most concerned, with 89% of London-based operators saying that they were worried about the impact of business rates on their business.