The UK restaurant market will continue to grow despite the consumer slowdown, breaking through the £7b mark in 2010, experts have predicted.
A new report by analysts Mintel, released exclusively to Caterer, reveals that the restaurant sector (excluding pubs and fast-food outlets) has grown by £1.2b in the past five years and is now worth £6.6b. It predicts that it will grow by 18% over the next five years to be worth £7.8b by 2013.
The traditional segment of British and European restaurants has been outpacing the growth achieved by ethnic restaurants, the report reveals, due to greater branding, more chains and constant innovation across the sector.
Mintel forecasts that the market for British and European cuisine will see a 21% increase to £5.5b over the next five years, while ethnic restaurants are predicted to grow 11% to £2.3b.
British cuisine has seen a renaissance over recent years thanks to an increased consumer focus on food provenance and local sourcing, while Italian, French and Spanish eateries continue to lead the way among European restaurants, according to the research.
But while consumers will not be cutting back on how often they dine out over the coming years, they are likely to be more prudent about the amount of money they spend, the report warns.
Helena Spicer, leisure analyst at Mintel and report author, told Caterer: "With increasing overheads, more expensive ingredients and tightening consumer budgets, operators will need to offer different types of menus, including sharing platters, different-sized meals and, particularly, set menus. Customer service will also be key to ensure return business. Next to dirty facilities, bad service is the biggest deterrent for customers to return."
Sam Harrison, co-owner of Sam's Brasserie and Harrison's, agreed that consumer behaviour was changing. "While people are still going out, they are spending less, and instead of a three-course meal with a bottle of wine are opting for two courses and a carafe," he said.
UK restaurant market 2008-13