New report reveals momentum brands in out of home food and drink

Costa, Wetherspoon, Greggs and Mitchells & Butlers among the operators in favour, analysis from CGA and Stone & River shows.
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Costa, JD Wetherspoon, Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery, Miller & Carter and Greggs are among the businesses with the most momentum in the out of home eating and drinking sectors at the moment, a new report reveals.

The CGA EI | Stone & River Brand Momentum Report dissects a wealth of CGA data to produce rankings of operators in five key parts of the industry and adds expert insight from hospitality and retail consultancy Stone & River. The result is an authoritative analysis of which brands are rising and falling in the eyes of British consumers.

The report concludes that Costa is the company with the most momentum in the coffee and food to go sector, followed by Patisserie Valerie. With more than 2,300 coffee shops and 7,000 Costa Express self-service units, Costa is now one of the most visible consumer brands around.

In the high street drinks-led sector, JD Wetherspoon emerges as the leading operator, followed by All Bar One. CGA’s data shows it has a very wide appeal across demographics and has sustained momentum through the convenience and value of its offer.

Mitchells & Butlers’ Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery tops the report’s list of leading pub restaurant names, ahead of Greene King’s Farmhouse Inns. Stonehouse has rolled out rapidly since launching and has successfully tapped into two of the most popular areas of eating out in pizzas and carveries.

M&B scores a second top spot in the restaurants category, with its steakhouse brand Miller & Carter leading narrowly from fast-growing brasserie concept Côte. Miller & Carter has replaced other M&B concepts in many locations lately and has built loyalty among older diners in particular.

In the QSR category, Greggs continues its dominance by leading the list ahead of McDonald’s, thanks in part to efforts to evolve its formula with more healthy options and sit-in service lately.

The report from CGA and Stone & River contains the analysis of many more pub, bar, restaurant, coffee and on the go operators, plus insights into the key triggers of brand momentum. It concludes that a straightforward offer, convenience and value are vital elements of success, and emphasises the importance of constant evolution and flexibility in business propositions. CGA has a wealth of further research into momentum to support operators’ ongoing marketing strategies.

Karl Chessell, business unit director for retail and food at CGA, said: “Our fascinating snapshot of out of home eating and drinking brands reveals the names that are increasing awareness and generating loyalty and word of mouth—as well as the ones that are slipping behind in public opinion. It shows the simplicity of some of the elements of successful branding—but also how challenging it can be to achieve them on the frontline. Staying on top of consumer habits and opinions is going to be crucial if brands are to generate momentum in this ultra-competitive market, and CGA’s data can help them do so.”

Alex Doman, engagement manager at Stone & River, said: “Our momentum index is reflective of an industry in flux, with some sectors experiencing something of a paradigm shift. It points to some key learnings about what it takes to build momentum: having an easy to understand and simple to deliver brand proposition, a focus on creating long-term value for the customer and targeting the older generation can all often be beneficial. The index asks a fundamental question: with the industry experiencing mass change, are you set up to compete and win? To answer this there are five key questions that this index throws up: do you understand why your business exists and why the customer should choose you; are you set up to understand what the customer needs and to create value long-term for those needs; is your business model fit for purpose given all the change; do you understand your brand’s maturity; and do you think of innovation in a new-age agile way or an old-school waterfall way. Stone & River works with organisations to help them find these answers.”

About the Report

The CGA EI | Stone & River Brand Momentum Report is based on figures from CGA BrandTrack, the market-leading survey of the eating and drinking out attitudes and habits of 5,000 nationally representative British consumers every quarter; and CGA Outlet Index, the UK’s most accurate and up to date database of licensed premises.

The Report’s ranking of operators is achieved by three key metrics: a measure of how awareness of a brand has changed over the last three years; an index of consumers who would consider using a business in the future versus lapsed users; and the difference between the number of consumers with positive and negative opinions of an operator. Figures are enhanced by data about customer loyalty and new openings in some sectors. Totals are weighted to produce an overall brand momentum rating.

About CGA
CGA is the data and research consultancy of choice for the out-of-home food and drinks market, specialising in market measurement, consumer research and location planning. What sets CGA apart is its unique ability to access the three key types of data (supply, demand and consumer) and then triangulate this data to provide the most complete and accurate picture of anyone in the out-of-home sector.

From its offices in Manchester, United Kingdom, and Chicago, United States, CGA experts work with many of the world’s biggest consumer brands, including drinks manufacturers, consumer brand owners, food suppliers and wholesalers as well as pub, bar and restaurant retailers and government entities.

Founded in 1992, CGA’s mission is to use its phenomenal data and expert insight of the leisure industry to give these brands the competitive edge and get them where they want to be, faster.

To learn more, visit

About Stone & River
Stone & River helps consumer-facing businesses transform and thrive in today’s world of intense change and disruption. As a specialist consultancy with 20 years’ experience of working alongside high profile UK and international brands in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, Stone & River helps organisations to grow sales, save costs and deliver faster. Blending industry knowledge with specialist consulting capabilities, it has a proven track record of delivering large-scale transformational change and strategy programmes that significantly increase businesses’ competitiveness and profitability.

To learn more, visit

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