The survey, which was completed in partnership with research consultants CGA and hospitality solutions provider Fourth, found that 41% of bosses were “fairly” or “very optimistic” about the future of the market in the next year.
Leaders’ continued to be more upbeat about their own businesses, with 65% fairly or very optimistic about the next 12 months, a year-on-year increase of 10%.
Some 61% leaders of drink-led businesses said they felt optimistic about the market as a whole over the next 12 months, nearly double of leaders of food-led businesses at 33%.
The hospitality sector has faced many challenges this year, including rising labour, property and food costs, intense competition and uncertainty over Brexit. It follows a tough first half of 2019, with 29% of leaders reporting that their business’ performance over the last six months had been below expectations.
CGA group chief executive, Phil Tate, said: “The patchy optimism among food-led business leaders confirms that 2019 has been a rough ride, with casual dining operators buffeted by ferocious headwinds and several high profile brands struggling. But leaders of drink-led businesses clearly feel they have much more to look forward to—a sign that after many years of pub closures and restaurant expansion, the tables have turned.”
Ben Hood, CEO of Fourth, added: “It’s fascinating to see something of a confidence gap emerging in the outlooks of operators from different types of businesses, which is clearly a product of the extremely challenging conditions buffeting some parts of hospitality. What is also resoundingly clear from industry leaders is a razor-sharp focus on labour productivity, no matter what type of business they lead.”