‘Craft’ spirits help slow Britain’s bar closures rate

The rate of drinks-led pub and bar closures in Britain has “substantially slowed” over the last 12 months due to the popularity of ‘craft’ spirits and cocktails, according to new research.

The latest Market Growth Monitor report from data and research consultancy CGA and global consulting firm Alix Partners revealed that drinks-led pubs – venues that generate the majority of sales from drinks – and bar closures averaged 3.6 a day in the last five years, but lessened in the last 12 months to 2.2 a day.

The study noted the slower pace follows a “strong 2018” for pubs and bars, due to Britain’s unusually hot summer, the FIFA World Cup and the rising popularity of artisanal spirits, cocktails and craft beer.

The quarterly Market Growth Monitor report provides data on restaurant, pub, and bar openings and closures.

CGA vice president Peter Martin said: “The last decade has seen a relentless decline in Britain’s number of pubs and bars, but there are welcome signs that the clear-out of unsustainable sites is starting to ease.

“With consumers’ drinking trends working in the sector’s favour, and food-led pub operators facing the same challenges as managed restaurants, the outlook for drinkers’ pubs is better than it has been for a long time.”

Alix Partners managing director Graeme Smith added that the “positive outlook” for drinking establishments is due to “buoyant” mergers and acquisitions in the industry.

Partners said: “Trade and private equity buyers are turning their gaze to pub and bar assets. This reflects not only the saturation of certain parts of the restaurant market but also the combination of reduced supply and the continued rise of quality wet-led pub and bar operators. These factors have been driving strong performance in a challenging environment.”

The report also added that Britain had 5,780 managed restaurants in December 2018 – 27.3% or 1,241 more than five years ago.

However, managed restaurants “appear to have peaked” as numbers fell by 0.1% from December 2017. The majority of the decline was attributed to casual dining brands.

The declining fortunes of restaurants have hit headlines in the past year, with chains such as Byron, Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo closing sites in order to stay afloat.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}