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UK Pub Catering market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Pub Catering market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this report

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). All pubs (public houses) and bars have on-trade licences to serve alcoholic drink for consumption on the premises. These licences may also be granted to other outlets, such as hotels or cinemas, but a pub has at least some traditional characteristics that differentiate it from other bars.

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 free house 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 on 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.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Trish Caddy , a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Eating at pubs is an affordable treat which should not be badly impacted in a consumer downturn, providing pub operators continue delivering excellent service as well as high quality yet affordable meals. In addition, pubs that make the most of non-traditional meal times can maximise profits coming from younger consumers who are fuelling demand for all-day grazing. Trish Caddy
Foodservice Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Catering segment fuels pub sector
              • Lower growth is expected in the next five years
                • Figure 1: Forecast for the value of the pub catering market, 2012-22
              • Companies and brands
                • Fast-growing food-led concepts: pizza, all-day dining, mobile apps
                  • JD Wetherspoon leads in value perception; Harvester wins healthy perception
                    • The consumer
                      • Evening visits losing out
                        • Figure 2: Frequency of visits, April 2018
                      • Beer is the favourite pub drink
                        • Figure 3: Most popular drinks, April 2018
                      • Lunch and dinner occasions attract different visitors
                        • Figure 4: Eating occasions, April 2018
                      • Most people have benefited from special offers at pubs
                        • Figure 5: Pub catering behaviours, April 2018
                      • Pubs need to modernise food offerings ...
                        • Figure 6: Menu trends to encourage visits, April 2018
                      • ... and stay true to their roots
                        • Figure 7: Attitudes towards pub catering, April 2018
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                        • Winning with families
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Opportunities in “fourth” meals
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • Modernising and staying true
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                          • Catering segment fuels pub sales
                                            • Lower growth is expected in the next five years
                                              • Price rises could hit consumer spending
                                                • Pub operators endure rising costs
                                                  • Ageing population may dampen long-term growth
                                                  • Market Size and Forecast

                                                    • Pub catering segment continues to grow …
                                                      • Figure 8: Forecast for the value of the pub catering market, 2012-22
                                                    • … but pubs need to endure tough trading conditions
                                                      • Figure 9: Examples of supermarket’s pub-style ready meals, April 2018
                                                      • Figure 10: Best- and worst-case forecast for pub catering market, 2012-22
                                                    • Forecast methodology
                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                      • Brexit uncertainty for pubs sector
                                                        • Pubs have less appeal to an ageing population
                                                          • Figure 11: Change in age structure of the UK population, 2012-17 and 2017-22
                                                        • Fight against obesity remains on the agenda
                                                          • New Pubs Code for tied leased and tenancy agreements
                                                            • Pub closures remain commonplace
                                                              • Price rises could hit consumer spending
                                                                • Rising menu prices
                                                                  • Household budgets start to ease
                                                                    • Pub operators continue to face rising costs
                                                                      • National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
                                                                        • Apprenticeship Levy
                                                                          • Revaluation of business rates
                                                                            • Utilities add pressures on publicans
                                                                              • Figure 12: Utility prices paid by non-domestic consumers (including the Climate Change Levy), 2007-17*
                                                                            • Sports TV subscriptions
                                                                              • Move away from traditional fish choices
                                                                                • The soft drinks levy arrives
                                                                                  • Phasing out plastic
                                                                                  • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Food-led concepts in expansion mode
                                                                                      • Testing dining concepts and mobile apps
                                                                                        • Destination gastropubs drive demand for accommodation
                                                                                          • JD Wetherspoon leads in value perception ...
                                                                                            • ... while Harvester wins in perception of healthy food
                                                                                            • Competitive Strategies

                                                                                                • Expansion
                                                                                                  • Charles Wells expands Pizza, Pots and Pints
                                                                                                    • Loungers invests £10 million into 16 new sites
                                                                                                      • Acquisition
                                                                                                        • Stonegate takes on more pubs
                                                                                                          • Star Pubs & Bars acquires 1,900 Punch pubs
                                                                                                            • Refurbishment
                                                                                                              • M&B rolls out new format for Harvester
                                                                                                                • Collaborations
                                                                                                                  • Remarkable Pubs launches craft beer pub with fish and chip shop collaboration
                                                                                                                    • Trials
                                                                                                                      • Revolution Bars Group to boost food sales
                                                                                                                        • M&B trials mobile order at table
                                                                                                                          • Whitbread trials new pub format
                                                                                                                            • Wetherspoon trials pizza
                                                                                                                              • Refinancing
                                                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                • Interest in food and drink pairing can boost wine
                                                                                                                                  • Food delivery gains traction
                                                                                                                                    • Pubs with rooms
                                                                                                                                      • Draught cocktails
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 13: Draught cocktails by Funkin Cocktails, March 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Premium soft drinks
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 14: Aqua Spritz by Brewfitt Ltd, March 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Vegan and vegetarian options
                                                                                                                                        • Pub pop-ups and events
                                                                                                                                        • Brand Research

                                                                                                                                            • Brand map
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 15: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 16: Key metrics for selected brands, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Brand attitudes: J D Wetherspoon seen to offer the best value
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 17: Attitudes, by brand, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Brand personality – macro: Beefeater and Toby Carvery edge towards boring
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 18: Brand personality – macro image, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Brand personality – micro: Potential for Walkabout to be a cool brand
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 19: Brand personality – micro image, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Brand analysis
                                                                                                                                              • J D Wetherspoon is UK’s dominant pub brand
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 20: User profile of JD Wetherspoon, April 2018
                                                                                                                                              • Toby Carvery is accessible
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 21: User profile of Toby Carvery, April 2018
                                                                                                                                              • Harvester, healthiest brand of all
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 22: User profile of Harvester, April 2018
                                                                                                                                              • Potential for Hungry Horse to increase brand awareness
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 23: User profile of Hungry Horse, April 2018
                                                                                                                                              • More can be done to improve value proposition of Beefeater Grill among older diners
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 24: User profile of Beefeater Grill, April 2018
                                                                                                                                              • There’s scope for Walkabout Bars to ramp up its “cool factor”
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: User profile of Walkabout Bars, April 2018
                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                              • Evening visits losing out
                                                                                                                                                • Beer is the favourite pub drink
                                                                                                                                                  • Meal times spur coffee sales
                                                                                                                                                    • Most people visit pubs through promoted visits
                                                                                                                                                      • Modernising pub food ...
                                                                                                                                                        • ... while staying true to your roots
                                                                                                                                                        • Frequency of Visits

                                                                                                                                                          • A drop in overall visits
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 26: Change in overall visits, March 2017- April 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • More people visit a pub/bar during the day
                                                                                                                                                            • Young families eat at pubs on a regular basis
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 27: Frequency of visits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • Women and older consumers rarely eat at pubs
                                                                                                                                                            • Most Popular Drinks

                                                                                                                                                              • Beer is the most popular drink
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Most popular drinks, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                              • Healthier fizzy drinks could keep prices sweet
                                                                                                                                                                • Mocktails and alcohol-free drinks in high spirits
                                                                                                                                                                • Popular Eating Occasions

                                                                                                                                                                  • Lunch and dinner occasions attract different visitors
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Eating occasions, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Meal times spur coffee sales
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Popular eating occasions, by hot drinks ordered, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Most popular meal times, by interest in barista-style coffee, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Rise of the “fourth meal” in cities
                                                                                                                                                                    • Pub Catering Behaviours

                                                                                                                                                                      • Most people have eaten at pubs through promoted visits
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 32: Pub catering behaviours, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • It’s a family affair
                                                                                                                                                                          • The influence of reviews
                                                                                                                                                                          • Menu Trends to Encourage Visits

                                                                                                                                                                            • Modern pub grub boosts food-led venues
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 33: Menu trends to encourage visits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Attitudes towards pub catering, by interest in pub catering trends, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                            • Modernising pub venues with open kitchens
                                                                                                                                                                              • Small plates create diner experience without going over-the-top
                                                                                                                                                                                • British cheese/charcuterie boards can drive snacks
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Most popular meal times, by interest in pub catering trends, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Attitudes towards Pub Catering

                                                                                                                                                                                • Personalised promotions essential for pubs/bars
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Attitudes towards pub catering, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Stay true to your roots by focusing on provenance
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Free-from food helps create awareness
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Tapping into younger Millennials’ charitable side
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Connecting with the public through outdoor events
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Urban families most keen on all-day dining – CHAID analysis
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Pub Catering – CHAID – Tree output, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                              • CHAID methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Pub catering – CHAID – Table output, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Best- and worst-case forecast of total UK pub catering sales, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Forecast methodology