Pub Catering - UK - May 2013
“Whilst increasing the ‘experiential’ element will help create a buzz around the dining/leisure occasion, operators should also be concentrating on improving engagement rates with consumers’ pre-/post-visit in order to increase the likelihood of turning diners into ‘brand ambassadors given the weight diners put on personal recommendation in venue choice.”
– Helena Spicer – Senior Foodservice Analyst
Some questions answered in this report include:
- How can menu innovation help operators reinvigorate consumers’ willingness to spend?
- What steps can operators take to foster word of mouth recommendations?
- How can operators create specific reasons to visit to encourage more regular usage among diners?
- What role can snacks play in driving quality perceptions of pub food?
An established image as being a value-for-money provider has helped to buoy the pub restaurant industry in recent years. However, factors such as poor weather over a number of seasons, combined with low consumer confidence have worked to dampen consumers’ enthusiasm for spending on eating out and forced operators to more proactively chase footfall.
Catering continues to gain share of overall pub revenues, as sales of alcoholic drinks continue to come under pressure from rising prices and a shift towards in-home drinking; however the long-term decline in pub outlet numbers limits its potential growth somewhat. As operators focus on gaining market share, trends towards more defined brand positions, such as premium pub concepts, are evident as operators look to target particular consumer groups more effectively. Menu innovation is another key strategy in the industry as operators look to increase their competitiveness against other eating-out sectors, and re-ignite consumers’ willingness to spend on this category.
Pub catering is defined as covering meals of any kind sold in public houses, with the exclusion of any drinks and also excluding packaged snack products (eg crisps, nuts, pork scratchings).
A public house (or ‘pub’) is defined as premises with a full on-licence, open to the public without entry qualifications or payment, for the purpose of purchasing and consuming alcohol during normal licensing hours.
Licensed restaurants are excluded from Mintel’s definition of pub-restaurants, as are hotels for which drinks form only a part of the overall business. Other premises, which may have full on-licences but are not generally open to the public, including licensed clubs, a variety of leisure venues and college bars, are also excluded.
Some important terms connected with the pub business are:
- Tenanted or leased pubs are run as businesses by independent publicans who pay rent to the owner of the property and also contract to take supplies from the property owner’s company. The supplies mainly only involve beer, this system dating back to the origin of most pubs as ‘tied’ houses controlled by brewers. The modern multiple pub-owning company (a ‘pubco’) usually has no formal connection to a brewer.
- Managed houses are pubs that are owned and managed by the same company, not leased out to an independent publican. Most pub-restaurants that operate as part of a group of such pubs are managed houses, often still owned by brewers or by ex-brewing companies (eg Whitbread, one of the many brewers that sold its breweries in 2001).
- A freehouse has no contract to a specific pubco or brewer, and is run as an entirely independent business.
- Gastropub is an unofficial term for a pub that employs a chef and aims to compete directly with restaurants for innovative cuisine.
- Wet sales refers to the proportion of a pub’s turnover from drinks (sometimes confined to alcohol), while the term, dry sales, refers to food turnover.
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