A recovery in confidence among food and drink businesses seen at the start of 2017 following the Brexit vote last year has stalled, according to the latest CGA Confidence Survey.
Of the 170 senior executives from across the pub, restaurant, bar and café market, two thirds (66%) said they were positive about the prospects for their own business for the coming 12 months, but just 43% were optimistic about the market as a whole.
Both figures were lower from the last survey, carried out back in February last year, when the respective numbers were 68% and 47%. They come on the back of new cost pressures, primarily from business rates and the cost of goods due to the falling pound.
"At the start of the year, the market had looked like it was recovering some confidence after it hit rock bottom after the Brexit referendum this time last year. The vast majority of senior executives had voted to remain," said CGA Peach's vice-president Peter Martin, "But that now looks to be on hold."
Bosses cited business rates and food costs, (79% and 78% respectively) as their chief concerns, followed by decreased staff availability, rental and property cost and increased staff costs.
"The number of business leaders concerned about rising food prices has increased 11 percentage points since the start of 2017 and reflects the fact that foodservice inflation is running at 5.8%, according to latest figures from the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index," added Martin.
Some 49% of those surveyed said they had already implemented price increases on certain food menu items, with 35% saying they had upped prices for consumers across their menus. A similar number had also upped drinks prices.
"To put this current nervousness into perspective, at the start of 2016 83% of senior executives were optimistic about their own business's prospects for the coming year, with three quarters (74%) positive about the market. We are now living in much more challenging times."
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