The proportion of multi-site businesses feeling confident about the next 12 months has climbed five percentage points to 37% since June.
However, this contrasts significantly with the wider picture, which shows that overall fewer than 10% of business leaders in the broader out-of-home sector feel confident about the year ahead.
The number of leaders feeling confident about the general market has dipped to just 9% - half the level of June (16%), and a fraction of the four-year high (60%) recorded at the start of the year before the virus hit.
This gulf in confidence follows news from CGA’s Market Recovery Monitor with AlixPartners last month, which showed that 89% of group managed licensed premises were back trading by the end of August, compared to just 68% of independently run sites.
Confidence has been lifted by the popularity of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which led to better than forecast trading for many multi-site groups in August.
The survey, conducted over the first three weeks of September, shows that two thirds of leaders said their trading had been above expectations since they reopened, with only 18% reporting worse than expected sales. Staycations and warm weather also boosted many operators over August.
But optimism levels will have been dented by new measures on group sizes, curfews and table service introduced by the Government since the survey was conducted.
Nine in ten leaders think fragile consumer confidence will have a negative impact on the market, and nearly as many (79%) are concerned about a squeeze on disposable incomes.
Going forward, 83% of leaders said they will be avoiding city centres in their growth plans, and 73% said they intend to adapt to the widespread switch to working from him.
“The wider COVID-19 narrative across the nation has taken an unfortunate turn in recent weeks, with the government introducing further restrictive measures on our industry,” says EMEA and Fourth MD Sebastien Sepierre.
“Naturally, this will have a less than positive impact on the confidence of business leaders across the sector.
“As an industry, we have clearly demonstrated that, by harnessing the power of technology and operations, we can operate safely and responsibly to deliver the customer experience that consumers were pining for during lockdown.
"It’s imperative that we work collaboratively to preserve confidence within the safety of eating and drinking out of home, as we navigate the challenging months ahead.”