Stonegate set to remain largest pub group in 2021

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Large company: Stonegate, which is headed up by Simon Longbottom, is set to stay biggest pub group this year
Large company: Stonegate, which is headed up by Simon Longbottom, is set to stay biggest pub group this year

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The 10 largest pubs groups are expected to see +7.0% growth with further consolidation in the pub market, the latest data from the Lumina Intelligence Operator Data Index has revealed.

The report​ looked at the top 10 pub groups by number of outlets, forecasting that Stonegate would remain the largest estate by the end of 2021, with just over 4,700 pubs, 60% bigger than the second largest pub group, Star Pubs & Bars. 

Admiral is forecast to see outlet growth of 71% (+674 outlets) by the end of 2021, following its acquisition of Hawthorn.

Lumina said that despite pent-up consumer demand driving sales post-lockdown, overall turnover among the top 10 pub groups is expected to decline in FY2020/2021 – down 54% compared to 2020. 

Sharp decline

This follows a sharp decline between 2019 and 2020, with the overall 2021 forecast of £3bn turnover significantly lower than the £9bn turnover recorded in 2019.

The report said that in the future the use of technology and delivery services would remain key to sales.

These include technological innovations to the pub sector to improve the consumer experience, especially during ordering. The benefits of digital technology have shifted from minimising contact, to speed, convenience, and the ability to track orders in venues, it said. 

Market volatility

 “The volatility of the market has allowed pub groups to review current strategies and restructure. Unsurprisingly, the impact of the pandemic saw the majority of the leading pub groups rationalise their estates. However, with merger and acquisition activity increasing, we expect many to grow their estates by the end of the year,” said senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence, Katherine Prowse. 

“Despite pent up consumer demand driving sales post lockdown, turnover amongst the leading pub groups is not expected to recover to pre coronavirus levels by the end of the year. Delivery and tech will be key to driving future growth. Consumers want to continue the benefits that tech and delivery offers from a speed and convenience perspective.”

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