Christie & Co’s mid-year review of the UK pub and restaurant markets also found the second most pressing issue was rising costs (83%), followed by three quarters (76%) concerned about food and drink price inflation.
Meanwhile, half (48%) cited trading levels as did the same proportion highlighting VAT increases were a worry.
A third (33%) said loan repayments, 31% mentioned supply chain issues, 29% said refurbishments and renovations, while 14% were concerned about the lack of overseas tourists and 12% said the availability of finance.
The report went on to illustrate there was an uptick in corporate pub activity during the first quarter of the year.
Merger and acquisition activity
Christie & Co announced the sale of 10 managed pub restaurants, owned by Red Mist Leisure to private equity-backed Red Lion Holdings for an undisclosed sum.
Red Oak Taverns also continued their pub estate expansion plans by acquiring 10 sites from Wells & Co.
Similarly, between March and May, there were three sales with Stonegate selling 42 venues to former Greene King boss Rooney Anand’s new venture RedCat.
This was followed by the acquisition of nine bars by Nightcap Group from Adventure Bar Group as well as the sale of six pubs by the administrators of Seafood Holdings to Oakman Inns.
Looking ahead, the report pointed to the agent’s Sentiment Survey, which found almost half (48%) of those polled were trading better than expected since reopening, with less than a quarter (22%) seeing levels at worse than expected and 30% as anticipated.
Predictions for the future
Some 37% showed positive feelings towards the rest of the year with 34% feeling negative and 30% neutral on their thoughts while 49% felt there is potential opportunity in the second half of 2021.
These opportunities included people receiving vaccinations and being more comfortable going out, the easing of restrictions, staycations and the opportunities to expand their business.
Furthermore, 83% believe it will take less than three years for trading in pubs and restaurants to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Pubs and restaurants managing director Stephen Owens said: “The first half of 2021 has seen owners hold off coming to market against a backdrop of continued government support and the anticipation of a strong bounce back, as restrictions have eased with the positive vaccine roll out.
“We have seen strong buyer appetite from both established operators and new entrants with more buyers than sellers helping to keep prices strong, particularly for freehold properties in coastal, countryside and lifestyle locations, with competitive bidding for prized assets.
“We anticipate a busy second half of the year and look forward to announcing some exciting transactions in the coming weeks and months.”