Well-known restaurant and bar brands are expected to change hands for millions of pounds in 2013, as the pipeline for deals in the sector remains strong.
That's the prediction from BDO's Restaurant and Bars Report, which said it expected successful brands such as Côte and burger specialist Byron to be sold for more than £100m.
The report also predicted modest growth for the sector as demand improved and the restriction on consumer spending eased.
It also envisaged a decline in mass discounting, such as the type of two-for-one offers that have been ubiquitous throughout much of the recession.
Meanwhile, fast-casual outlets are growing strongly, and major pub operators are expected to continue to invest in dining to mitigate the impact of falling beer volumes and wet-led pubs focusing on premium-priced craft and cask beers.
David Campbell, head of BDO's restaurants and bars team, said: "Four years of recession have seen people focus on value for money, but that doesn't mean they won't pay a premium price for a quality product.
"Gourmet versions of authentic street food classics like burgers, hot dogs and chicken, and concepts like artisanal bakeries have sprung up in the teeth of a recession and people still queue around the block.
"Investors see a clever idea backed by strong, entrepreneurial management teams and they know they won't be the only suitor. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about mergers and acquisitions in this sector next year."
By Neil Gerrard
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