The UK's major restaurant operators are confident they can outperform the economy in the next two years but lack of financing may limit growth and expansion, research has suggested.
The report, which questioned the 24 members of the British Hospitality Association's National Restaurants Group, found that more than one third of operators expect slight growth in 2009 and 2010, with the same number predicting strong growth next year.
However, the report, compiled by accountants BDO Stoy Hayward, warned that growth would be inhibited if banks do not make finance to operators more readily available.
While half of operators found that current lending had hardened in the last 12 months, nearly two thirds said it was worse for new lending. More than a third of businesses believed they will require additional funding in the next 12 months while half said they will need more in 2010 and 2011.
Despite this confidence in the future, however, half of respondents said customers are eating out less, with 60% observing a drop in spending. More than 70% of operators said there was a significant fall in corporate spending.
David Campbell, head of restaurants and bars at BDO, said operators have been quick to react to the economic downturn.
"More than three quarters of operators have reduced the number of staff and almost two thirds have frozen wages and salaries. Menus have been re-engineered and 88% have renegotiated food and beverage contracts," he said.
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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