Hospitality leaders ‘optimistic’ of long-term future, CGA finds

Three in five leaders anticipate opening new sites in 2021, up from 11% in November, and much higher than 31% who anticipate keeping some sites shut for good

Hospitality leaders are reportedly optimistic about the long-term future of the sector, though “urgent” support is still required to help them navigate reopening, according to the CGA Business Leaders’ Survey 2021.

The survey, which was conducted in collaboration with UKHospitality, British Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, found that 9% of leaders predict their businesses will not survive if no additional support is announced in the March budget, however. 

Meanwhile, only 37% think their businesses can return to profit this year without fresh support.

Nonetheless, the survey found “signs of confidence” about prospects from mid-April, and 51% of respondents were confident about prospects for the sector over the next 12 months, more than triple the number who felt the same way in November (14%). 

In addition, the number of hospitality leaders feeling confident about their own businesses has doubled, from 27% to 54%.

According to the CGA, there is also evidence that many businesses will be seeking to grow rather than shrink their portfolios. Three in five (59%) leaders anticipate opening new sites in 2021, up from 11% in November, and much higher than the 31% who anticipate keeping some sites shut for good.

It also found that 81% of leaders think hospitality can make a positive contribution to the UK’s recovery by boosting the economy, while 87% believe their guidelines have been effective in ensuring the safety of both guests and staff after previous lockdowns.

Nonetheless, respondents stressed the need for more government support between now and the reopening of hospitality, identifying extensions to a trio of measures—the business rates holiday, VAT reductions and the furlough scheme—as their three top priorities. 

Phil Tate, group CEO at CGA, said: “This survey shows business leaders will be walking a tightrope in 2021. Nearly 12 months on from hospitality’s first compulsory closure, many thousands of venues and jobs have now been lost for good. 

“But it’s also encouraging to see that many businesses are optimistic about long-term prospects, and confident enough to be thinking about opening rather than closing sites. It’s clear that a year of significant churn lies ahead, and as in all periods of crisis there will be winners as well as losers.”

He added: “This is a dynamic and innovative industry that is loved by consumers across the UK, but its resilience is being tested like never before. Support from government, investors, suppliers and landlords alike will be vital if hospitality is to play a full part in our country’s economic revival in 2021 and beyond.” 

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