Nine in ten leaders of eating and drinking-out businesses feel optimistic about their industry prospects in 2015, although concerns remain about overall growth, a new report has shown.
CGA Peach's latest Business Leaders' Survey studied the trends set to emerge in the pub, bar, restaurant and foodservice sectors in the coming months, as well as business leaders' confidence in the market. Results showed that although the industry is feeling confident about 2015, the rising cost of property and fears of saturation are tempering total optimism.
Nearly three quarters of business leaders said they were either very concerned (38%) or fairly concerned (34%) by property and rental costs, with prices significantly higher now than at this time last year, especially in London.
Business leaders are also relatively concerned about staffing costs such as wages (18% are concerned) and pensions (46%), while 64% are at least fairly concerned about the threat of saturation and possible over-supply in the industry.
The report also identified trends that look set to impact the industry most, including finding that 57% of market leaders felt barbecue dishes would be big news in 2015, 64% thinking that 2015 would be the year of craft beer, and 43% saying that micro-distillery spirits would grow in popularity.
Similarly, the findings showed that growth was seen as most likely to occur at transport hubs such as airports and train stations (78% of leaders said this), followed by town centres (56%). Perceived value for money among consumers was also likely to be higher on the agenda in the coming months (as said 61% of leaders), but quality of food (66%) and service (79%) were also considered paramount.
A significant 88% of leaders also said that engaged staff were key to a successful business, with 79% saying that they planned to increase investment in staff training this year, and 73% in customer service.
CGA Peach's Peter Martin commented: "After a relatively quiet few years, our Business Leaders' Survey shows that eating and drinking out brands are firmly back in growth mode this year, building on the success most enjoyed in 2014, when most companies surveyed said they had met or exceeded their own expectations. "
However, he also warned that companies would need to be "on top of their game to thrive" in such a competitive market.
The survey echoes similar reports released in recent months, which have also pointed to a growing sector, and to niche trends becoming more mainstream, such as barbecue plates and craft beer.