Rate of site closures slows

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Sector figures: the report shows there were three net closures a day in the third quarter of 2023 (image: Getty/JuergenBosse)
Sector figures: the report shows there were three net closures a day in the third quarter of 2023 (image: Getty/JuergenBosse)

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While the number of Britain’s licensed premises dropped by 3.6% over the past 12 months, the pace has slowed as the ear has gone on.

The latest Hospitality Market Monitor from CGA by NIQ and AlixPartners showed there were fewer than 100,000 licensed venues​ as of the end of September 2023. The decrease of 3,766 sites equated to more than 10 net closures per day.

However, the monitor illustrated a fall in licensed premises over the third quarter of this year of 0.3% – equivalent to just under three net closures daily.

It flagged the managed hospitality sector as achieving 0.5% growth in the three months to September 2023 while the number of independently-run segment saw a 0.6% fall.

Healthy growth

CGA by NIQ director of hospitality operators and food EMEA Karl Chessell said: “It is pleasing to see a slowdown in closures over the third quarter of 2023, though whether it is the beginning of a sustained positive trend or a lull remains to be seen.

“High inflation and interest rates are keeping a lid on consumer confidence, but the healthy growth in venues form multi-site managed groups is a positive sign of confidence from business leaders and investors.

“Despite the contraction in size in recent years​, the long-term outlook for hospitality remains very good.”

The data highlighted how the sector has changed in recent times, according to AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith.

Market evolution

He said: “While it is never nice to see the number of licensed premises in the UK continue to fall, what the figures don’t show is while the sector has contracted overall, this masks an evolution of the market as it has become more varied and more innovative.

“In addition, the standard of offer across the full spectrum of the hospitality industry has never been higher.

“Recent figures show the contraction in site closures has slowed, this comes after a period of significant estate consolidation.

“It also marks a period when many operators have tentatively returned to the expansion trail, coupled with the continued entry of new concepts and international brands into the sector.

“If consumers continue to spend on hospitality and experiences in the face of more challenging economic conditions, we could see site numbers begin to expand again in 2024.”

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