Leisure venue caterers are set for a tough 2009 and will need to focus on offering value as consumers rein in their spending, market analyst Mintel has warned.
The leisure sector, which covers theme parks, nightclubs, bingo halls, historic buildings, nightclubs and ten pin bowling, is dominated by Compass Group and Sodexo.
A new report from Mintel, released exclusively to Caterersearch, shows that the sector has enjoyed five years of solid growth from 2003, with catering revenues up 15% to £2.2b in 2007 (£2.39b at 2003's catering prices).
Mintel warned that this was due to a continuing perception amongst the public that catering at leisure venues was expensive, with long queues and poor food on offer.
The report also highlights that sector growth appeared to slow last year, with 2008's expenditure estimated to be slightly down on 2007's at £2.19b.
Worse, although 2009 looks good at first glance, with forecast expenditure of £2.2b, once pegged back at 2003's catering prices it is just £2.17b, the lowest for six years.
Helena Spicer, senior leisure analyst at Mintel, said: "Leisure venues that tend to draw their customers primarily from less affluent blue-collar and unskilled workers, and those that have a heavy reliance on the families market, look set to see a fall in both visitors and catering spend."
However, Spicer added that sectors that attract the bulk of their guests from older age groups, such as museums and art galleries, were likely to fair better.
By Chris Druce
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