The UK food service sector remains cautious about the next year, despite three quarters of operators reporting increased sales in the last quarter of 2010.
The Top of Mind Survey, published by research group Allegra Strategies, surveyed 337 senior executives at companies such as Byron Hamburgers, Compass, Caffè Nero and Ego Restaurants, as well as retailers and suppliers.
It found that perceptions of the current trading environment are polarised, with 41% of those surveyed viewing the business climate to be challenging and 40% considering it to be positive.
Half of respondents feel that market conditions in the next 18 months would remain challenging, with full economic recovery not set to take place until the second half of 2012.
Jeffrey Young, managing director at Allegra Strategies, commented: "Although trading performance is more optimistic, it is understandable that senior executives will exercise caution during 2011.
"The economic recovery remains sluggish and food cost pressures will intensify the squeeze on margins. Recessionary-forged consumer mindsets will lead to long-term value consciousness."
The most admired food and beverage brands in the UK are sandwich chain Pret A Manger, followed by fast food giant McDonald's and supermarket Waitrose. These brands are rated highly by their peers in the industry because they provide excellent customer service, consistent quality, have a strong identifiable culture and are committed to ethical initiatives.
By Kerstin Kühn
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