The latest CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey, conducted in May by business insight consultancy CGA in collaboration with hospitality software provider Fourth, revealed that 75% of company leaders are optimistic about the prospects for their business in the next year.
This represents an increase of 11 percentage points against the last confidence survey in February.
While an upswing in bosses’ confidence for the overall market was also recorded, the survey found that still less than half (47%) of bosses are upbeat about prospects for the wider eating and drinking out sector over the next 12 months - also representing an 11 percentage points increase on the previous survey in February.
While both figures are the highest recorded by the survey since February 2016, they are still below the levels seen before the Brexit vote, with three quarters of leaders stating that their businesses had been adversely affected by the outcome of the referendum.
Responding to the survey’s results, CGA CEO Phil Tate commented: “The more upbeat tone of the survey appears at odds with the recent news of some high-profile restaurant closures in the first half of this year, driven by business challenges including rising food, people and property costs and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
“But it might be because of this market shake out, coupled with more stable food prices, that business executives are now gaining more confidence.”
Fourth CEO Ben Hood added: “In the face of challenging external headwinds in rising costs of both labour and inventory, there remains a cohort of outstanding operators who are constantly looking inwardly at their businesses and investing in the marketing and technology they need to increase efficiencies and improve their offer and the customer experience.
“There will always be an appetite for spending on food and drink among UK consumers, it’s ingrained in our culture, and these slick, streamlined businesses are in pole position to thrive over the coming years.
“After a tough start to 2018, this latest Business Confidence Survey is a welcome reminder that hospitality remains an essentially upbeat industry. CGA’s research shows that like-for-like sales growth is modest, and that many restaurant, pub and bar operators have scaled back their new openings plans — but conditions that challenge some businesses can also bring opportunities for others.”