A report by AlixPartners CGA Peach Market Growth Monitor shows the country’s total number of licensed premises fell by 1.2% in the 12 months to March 2017.
In contrast, the report said the performance of managed drinks-led community locals, where growth in new openings hit 8.7% in the year to March 2017, was “striking”.
Managed drink-led pubs
“[Growth in this sector of pubs] has come from the likes of Greene King and the Ei Group, which have been transitioning many pubs to various managed formats; and pub turnaround specialists including Amber Taverns,” the report said.
Multi-site managed pub and restaurant businesses, especially in the casual dining sector, also rose by 2.5% in the year to March.
CGA Peach said the broader fall in pub openings was the result of continued closures in independent drinks-led pubs and restaurants. These pubs have been hit by a “triple whammy” of increased property, food and people costs, exacerbated by uncertainty over Brexit.
The figures demonstrate a long-term trend away from independently run pubs and towards “trusted, well-managed brands”, especially in casual dining, said the report.
CGA Peach vice-president Peter Martin said: “Our latest market growth monitor shows that while the eating- and drinking-out markets are facing unprecedented challenges — the vast majority not of their own making — managed groups remain very much on the front foot.”
AlixPartners managing director Paul Hemming added: “There is no getting away from the fact that the eating- out and drinking-out sector is being challenged as never before.
“But despite these challenges, the AlixPartners CGA Peach Market Growth Monitor shows that many multi-site operators continue to expand, albeit in a more careful and considered manner than earlier in the cycle.”