Trading conditions remain tough for the restaurant sector but operators are starting to see signs of recovery, research has found.

The UK Restaurant Leader Report, by analyst firm Allegra Strategies, which questioned 150 key players, found that nearly 60% of operators saw negative like-for-like performance in the three months to the end of June.

However, the level of discontent among industry leaders about the economic climate is waning, with 42% now reporting strong concerns compared with 51% last year.

The UK Restaurant Leader Report predicts that the recession will have a long-term effect on the market, with 85% of those surveyed saying that customer value expectations have increased as a direct result of the downturn.

Jeffrey Young, managing director of Allegra Strategies, told Caterersearch that consumers were a lot more aware when it comes to value for money, which has largely been driven by the deals and vouchers offered by restaurants.

“The chains will have to be careful about how they move away from this as there is now a certain customer expectation. A key challenge for operators will be to offer customers added value.”

The report identified Pizza Express as the most admired brands by industry peers, while Mexican-themed Wahaca, healthy-eating chain Leon and burger group Byron were the best-liked emerging brands in the market.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was recognised as the most admired individual within the restaurant industry.

More diners are eating out but are spending less, says survey >>

Eating-out spend falls for first time >>

London restaurants see first green shoots of recovery >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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