Pubs and BarsRestaurants

Licensed premises, pubs and restaurant numbers dip in 2019

The number of licensed premises has declined by 2% in the past year, according to CGA and AlixPartner’s latest market growth monitor.

This equates to a steady rate of 46 closures of licensed premises a week in the 12 months to September 2019.

The result also marked the ninth quarter of year-on-year decline in a row, and the report reveals that there are now almost 7,000 fewer licensed premises than there were five years ago.  

Despite this, year-on-year rate of decline was the lowest it has been since June 2018.

Meanwhile, pubs closed at a rate of 17 sites per week, according to the report. 

Wet-led pubs “bore the brunt” of these closures, shutting at a rate of 19 per week. Food-led pubs, on the other hand, had a net growth of 1.3% throughout the year.

Britain’s total pub numbers have fallen by 11% in the last five years however, which is equivalent to over 4,400 closures, or more than two closures a day. Wet-led pubs fell by 15% in the same five-year period. 

The report also tracked the number of UK restaurant closures in the past year, and concluded they faced a year-on-year decline for the seventh quarter in a row. 

Restaurant numbers fell by 2.4%, or a net closure rate of 12 sites per week. 633 sites closed in the past year. 

Nonetheless, managed restaurant sites did see a slight increase in the quarter with a rise of 0.3%.

The report said: “The travails of the casual dining sector have been well publicised, with Jamie’s Italian the most high profile casualty. 

“But difficulties for some brands are opportunities for others, and as CGA’s research has shown for some while now, small and medium sized groups have been accelerating, with the likes of Five Guys, Giggling Squid and Franco Manca picking up the slack left by retreating brands.” 

The report also examined nightclub and bar closures throughout the year.

It said that “changing consumer habits and rising costs” have challenged nightclubs, which have declined by 10.8% throughout the year, averaging at four closures a week. 

However, circuit bars enjoyed a year-on-year growth of 0.2%, despite their numbers being 13% less than they were five years ago. 

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, said: “While the overall number of restaurants has dipped further, the situation is not quite as gloomy as it seems, with a number of smaller restaurant groups continuing to expand site numbers.

“In addition, many major cities are reporting increases in the numbers of licensed premises, despite an overall downward trend. In the pub sector, the evolution of operating formats and offer continues.” 

He added: “Whilst drink-led sites are declining and food-led outlets have grown to have a greater share of overall site numbers, there still holds a place in the market for wet-led operators who deliver a differentiated experience to customers.”

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