CGA report reveals grounds for confidence for British pubs

Exclusive new report with Pub19 highlights consumers’ deep-rooted affection for the British pub and positive trends in numbers.
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Many areas of the British pub market are set to thrive in 2019 despite challenging market conditions, according to a major new report from CGA and Pub19.

The British Pub Market: Reasons To Be Optimistic For 2019 was published this week to coincide with Pub19, the leading trade show for the pub industry held in London on 5 and 6 February. It reveals new data confirming the huge popularity of British pubs and their longstanding strengths, with ‘cosy’, ‘local’, ‘family-friendly’ and ‘familiar’ the four qualities that consumers value about them.

The report also indicates the growing interest in new types of pub, including experiential and games-based venues. Brewpubs, tap houses and micropubs are a growing area of interest, with CGA’s consumer research showing that around half of all consumers would now consider visiting these pub types.

The British Pub Market report also reveals sharp contrasts in the performance of different types of pubs in recent years—especially between those relying on food or drink for the majority of sales. Britain’s number of drink-led pubs and bars has fallen by 17.3% in the last five years, the research shows—but food-led pubs have increased by 2.0% over the same period.

There is a similarly stark divide in the fortunes of tenanted, leased and managed pubs. Tenanted pubs have declined in number by 23.3% in five years, while managed pubs are up by 11.0%.

The figures reflect the success of many managed pub brands and the popularity of pub restaurant food in the last few years. But the report also reveals a recent resurgence in pub drinking, thanks to the popularity of craft beer, cocktails and artisan and premium spirits, and a big boost to trade during last year’s hot summer and football World Cup. Data from CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker shows that Britain’s leading managed pub groups increased their like-for-like sales by 1.7% in 2018—a year in which restaurant groups saw sales drop by 0.7%.

Karl Chessell speaking at Pub19

The British Pub Market report provides a host of further exclusive insights into the pub sector, including news of a surge in pubs and bars in city centres, especially in northern Britain, with Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and York all recording a double-digit percentage rise in numbers in the last five years. It also identifies many opportunities for pub operators to increase their footfall and sales, especially among women, millennials and lapsed pub-goers.

CGA’s business unit director for food and retail Karl Chessell said: “There has been a lot of doom and gloom about the British pub market in the last few years, but our new report shows that there are strong grounds for optimism as we move into 2019. Pubs have a unique and enduring appeal to consumers and play an invaluable role in city, town and rural communities alike. And while many pubs have thrived as dining destinations in the last few years, our research is also revealing an exciting renaissance in pub drinking too.

He added: “Rising costs, consumer confidence and Brexit will all put pressure on all operators this year, but we may well see pubs continue to outperform the restaurant sector. Operators that can draw on traditional pub values to deliver a distinctive offer, a memorable experience and value for money are well positioned to trade successfully through tough times in 2019 and beyond.”

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