News > Venues

Pubs need to think beyond traditional food and must emulate high street restaurants

1 commentBy Peter Ruddick , 22-Mar-2012

Related topics: Business, Venues, Trends & Reports, Pub Trends, Pubs & Bars

Traditional pub food may not be the lifeline for publicans looking to tackle falling drink sales and pubs need to emulate the high street restaurant market in order to survive.

Food may not be the 'lifeline' for pubs that some have claimed and pubs need to think beyond food in order to survive, according to Horizons' Peter Backman

Food may not be the 'lifeline' for pubs that some have claimed and pubs need to think beyond food in order to survive, according to Horizons' Peter Backman

That was the verdict of Peter Backman, managing director of foodservice consultancy Horizons, who was speaking to an audience at a Travel & Leisure Conference in London earlier this week. Speaking at the event, organised by investment bank Numis Securities, Backman said the pub food market was almost at saturation point.

The UK growth opportunities that still existed for mid-scale casual dining or quick service restaurants should be what pub operators look to copy in order to survive, as opposed to increasingly turning to traditional food offerings to boost revenues.

Improve footfall

Backman said pubs needed to change their food model to emulate businesses such as Wagamama and Nando’s and increase footfall, improve efficiency and up-sell more.

"These operators are profitable because of their fast turnover and high footfall, while cash-pressed customers are attracted by their value-conscious, reliable food," he said.

“The big pub operators, such as Marston’s, Greene King, JD Wetherspoon and Mitchells & Butlers all now report food as over 40 per cent of sales. However, food in pubs has lower margins than drink sales because of the higher cost of producing meals, consequently either pub food businesses need to charge more for their food, or the food model in pubs needs to change,” Backman added.

Budget-conscious

In September last year the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) reported food was continuing to play an integral part in pubs' business plans , with a third of pubs saying food accounted for 30 per cent of turnover despite the higher operating costs.

However Backamn said lessons could be learnt form the recession and high street operators such as Giraffe and Pizza Express that had continued to experience strong sales despite the economic climate. 

“The benefit of these brands is that many customers prefer their faster service, cheaper food and familiar menus, and because of this, operators are able to turn their tables more rapidly. I believe this is the market that pubs would be well served to explore,” he said.

The sensible option for pubs, Backman concluded, was for them to do the same and rethink operations to cut costs and attract the budget-conscious customer.

1 comment (Comments are now closed)

Food Spectrum

An interesting article. It's exactly what Food Spectrum will be doing but taking it to the next level. The initiative will be launched in June 2012 - we're very excited!

Report abuse

Posted by Ellie Hernaman
23 March 2012 | 13h25

BigHighlights

National Restaurateurs’ Dinner 2014: in pictures

National Restaurateurs’ Dinner 2014: in pictures

The 27th National Restaurateurs’ Dinner (NRD) took place at the Dorchester on Tuesday, helping raise over £80,000 for...

Travellers’ Choice: Top 10 UK tourism hotspots

Travellers’ Choice: Top 10 UK tourism hotspots

London is the third-best travel destination in the world, according to TripAdvisor’s sixth annual Travellers’ Choice awards...

#AskMark: Our inspiring Twitter Q&A with Mark Sargeant reviewed

#AskMark: Our inspiring Twitter Q&A with Mark Sargeant reviewed

Whether it was his advice for young chefs, his memories of working with Gordon Ramsay or his...

Business Profile: Ping Pong

Business Profile: Ping Pong

Ping Pong’s change-of-location strategy and design brief move it a step closer to bringing dim sum to...

Development Chef Awards 2014: In Pictures

Development Chef Awards 2014: In Pictures

The Farm Frites Development Chef Awards 2014 took place in London yesterday, recognising and rewarding the best menus, dishes...

Find us on Facebook

Digital Edition - Restaurant Magazine

Access to the Restaurant Magazine digital edition