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Thu 6th Dec 2018 - Restaurant numbers fall 2% although managed groups continue to grow, Costa launches pre-order drinks service
Restaurant numbers fall 2% although managed groups continue to grow, total of licensed premises down 3.2%: The number of restaurants in Britain fell 2.0% during the year to September 2018 although managed groups continued to grow, the latest Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. The research showed Britain had a total of 26,892 restaurants at September. The net fall of 539 restaurants – equivalent to more than ten closures a week – marks an acceleration since the start of 2018 when the sector was still in year-on-year growth. The monitor uncovered a clear divide in the restaurant sector’s fortunes in 2018. Independently owned restaurants fell 2.6% in the year to September but managed restaurants recorded a 1.0% increase despite news of closures and company voluntary arrangements from some leading casual dining brands. Family-owned Chinese, Indian and Italian restaurants have borne the brunt of closures, while some multi-site groups – especially small and medium-sized ones – continue to grow despite challenging market conditions. These groups have fuelled a 7.7% increase in Britain’s restaurant numbers since September 2013, the monitor showed. Across all licensed premises, including pubs, bars, clubs and hotels as well as restaurants, Britain’s total stood at 118,905 at September 2018 – a 3.2% fall year-on-year. Pubs and bars have closed at a faster pace than restaurants, with numbers tumbling 11.3% in the past five years – equivalent to about 24 closures a week. But CGA research also revealed pubs and bars with a strong drinks offer were performing better following a hot summer and the World Cup. The monitor also showed the pace of closures during the year has been higher in rural areas of Britain (3.6%) than on high streets (2.6%). Some city centres continue to grow their amount of restaurants, pubs and bars, with Birmingham adding 25 in the year to September. The north of England has seen a 2.8% fall in the number of licensed premises in the past year – significantly lower than the decline of 4.0% in the south. CGA vice-president Peter Martin said: “We have seen a steady flow of pub and bar closures for many years but the restaurant sector is now going through its own clear-out. The bulk of closures are from independents while managed groups remain in growth – and this trend is welcome news for some since it eases overcapacity and frees more property. But these figures are a reminder all restaurant brands need a well-defined and brilliantly executed offer if they are to succeed in a survival of the fittest in 2019.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “Pockets of growth are still to be found for businesses with a highly differentiated offer and strong focus on the guest experience. For businesses in the sector looking to grow, there remains a multitude of options across equity and debt and investors continue to see attractive opportunities.”

Costa Coffee launches pre-order drinks service: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has launched a mobile pre-order drinks service for members of its Costa Coffee Club loyalty programme. Costa Collect will allow members to order their drink through the programme’s app before picking it up at their chosen store. Initially launching in 111 London stores, the company plans to roll the service out UK-wide in 2019. The app allows users to identify their nearest store and order any drinks from the barista-made menu including size, milk type and added extras. Payment is made through the app with digital VAT receipts sent via multiple channels. Costa Coffee global digital and loyalty director Arslan Sharif said: “Our insights tell us customers expect innovations that enhance their day-to-day busy lives by making it easy and convenient to buy their favourite drink. We’re delighted to be able to offer customers across London the chance to take back some precious time in their day with the launch of Costa Collect. We look forward to customers discovering new and faster ways to enjoy great coffee as we look to expand the Costa Collect service UK-wide in 2019.”

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