MA Leaders Club

Consumer confidence has risen but inflation poses threat

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pictured at the MA Leaders event (from left to right): The Morning Advertiser's Nikkie Thatcher was joined by operators Brian Whiting, Dianne Irving and Philip Thorley
Pictured at the MA Leaders event (from left to right): The Morning Advertiser's Nikkie Thatcher was joined by operators Brian Whiting, Dianne Irving and Philip Thorley

Related tags: MA Leaders, London, Multi-site pub operators

Pubs are still standing and optimistic for the year ahead, but inflation and VAT rises alongside the staffing crisis pose big challenges for 2022, according to operators across the sector.

Following the disaster of December, consumer confidence has continued to rise so far this year despite some pubs being forced to increase prices due to inflation, but according to Thorley Taverns director, Phillip Thorley, the real value for customers lies within the experience given by staff.

Speaking at the MA Leaders Club event in London today (24 February), Thorley said: “Coming into this year we will all be looking at smaller bottom lines.

“With inflation comes a volatile but more creative market.

“I keep all these challenges away from our team, they need to keep [customers] coming in.

“There is going to be more money but it is all to do with what we are doing, what service are we giving?

“The value is not in the price of a pint or the price of a burger, it’s in what we are doing.”

Back to basics 

Managing director of WH Pubs, Brian Whiting, felt they had benefited from working from home as more people went out for leisurely walks, prompting him to offer maps of the local area and takeaway teas and coffees, which will continue.

However, for Whiting, the key thing for development this year should be pub gardens and training.

He told the MA Leaders Club: “Our emphasis now is back to training, we want to get back to basics and build on the trade we’ve got

“The gardens will come into their own, people are sitting outside in January, so my big plan is to develop the gardens.”

Despite December being “torrid”, according to Thorley, Drouth Pubs’ Diane Irving said Christmas gave her the opportunity to reflect and look into the future with optimism.

Speaking at the MA Leaders event, she said: “We were expecting January to be disastrous, a lot of people got over Christmas with granny and decided it was okay to go out.

“We’ve had a lot of time to reflect and at the moment we are spending a lot of time training staff.

Pubs are still standing 

“We have taken on people we wouldn’t haven’t before so we are looking at training them but I think this is to our benefit.

“We are still here we are still standing and we’ve got some really good people with us who might not have had the opportunity in the past.”

However, worries regarding VAT and inflation rises were consistent among all three operators.

Whiting added: “I’m worried about interest rates going up, we talk about people having money in their pocket, but will people have money in their pocket?

“VAT going back to 20% is going to have a massive impact.

“Trade is going well but I am so worried nothing will be left at the bottom of it all.”

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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