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Wed 20th Apr 2022 - Number of licensed premises in Britain down 9,200 since start of pandemic
Number of licensed premises in Britain down 9,200 since start of pandemic: The number of licensed premises in Britain has fallen by 9,200 since the start of the pandemic – a net decline of 8% of all sites, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. In the first quarter of 2022, the number of licensed premises fell 0.9% year-on-year, indicating Britain had just under 106,000 licensed premises at the end of March 2022. While the small decrease did represent a slowdown in the rate of closures since the start of the pandemic, sharp rises in energy, food and labour prices, the end to VAT relief, and the expiration of the moratorium on landlord action means many fragile hospitality businesses remain at risk of closure in the months ahead, the report warned. In the first quarter of 2022, the independent sector saw a net decline of 1.0% of venues when compared with the previous quarter’s figures. This was fractionally ahead of the managed world, which saw a 1.3% net decline in the first quarter of the year. However, on a two-year measure since the start of the pandemic in 2020, independents’ total site numbers are 8.7% down – a much steeper drop than the 4.8% decline in the managed sector. Some market segments are also faring worse than others in the current climate. For example, nightclubs suffered a significant net decline of 1.7% between the first quarter of 2022 and the final quarter of 2021, while drink-led community pubs saw numbers trimmed by 1.5% over the same period. In contrast, channels including bars and casual dining restaurants have grown, albeit modestly. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Consumer demand and investor confidence remain strong, and it has been encouraging to see a stream of new entrants into the market in early 2022. But while they have kept numbers of licensed premises nearly flat on the surface, there is a lot of turmoil going on underneath. We can expect to see a steady flow of both closures and new openings as the year goes on.” Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, added: “During this extremely challenging time, many businesses will be revisiting liquidity forecasts that may have become out-of-date and reassessing the validity of any capex and new site roll-out plans.”

Fridays appoints new chief marketing officer: Fridays, part of Hostmore, has appointed Rhiannon Scarlett – who helped launch Tesco’s retail marketing programme – as its chief marketing officer. Scarlett, who takes up the position on Monday (25 April), replaces Dan Staples, who joined the business in December 2019. Scarlett started her career at customer insight, data and communications agency dunnhumby, where she worked with Tesco, along with food brands including Unilever and P&G, to help promote and engage customers in store and online. She has also worked in the US for the Kroger Company, leading its loyalty programme in California, North Carolina and Utah. In her latest role as UK marketing director at The Body Shop, Scarlett was responsible for leading its marketing strategy to attract new customers and retain existing ones. She will now be responsible for marketing and public relations for Fridays and 63rd+1st, including all customer relationship management, loyalty and digital operations. She will also support Fridays’ focus on guest loyalty, acquisition, retention and growth. Robert B Cook, Fridays chief executive, said: “As a retail marketeer with rich consumer knowledge, combined with her background in data and customer insight, Rhiannon will play a key role as we deliver against our ambitious growth plans. We are on a mission to make Fridays famous again, and Rhiannon will help us build creative, standout initiatives to spread that Fridays feeling to new and existing customers right across the country.”

Tourism and recreation posts fastest growth of any sector as UK recovery accelerates, but prices set to keep rising: Tourism and recreation – which includes pubs, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities – posted the fastest growth of any sector in March as the UK’s recovery accelerates, according to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Recovery Tracker. Using a system whereby a reading above 50 signals output is rising, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction, the sector was given a mark of 68.5, compared with 58.8 in February. The sector’s activity was bolstered by holidaymakers booking more trips abroad following the easing of covid-19 travel restrictions, as well as higher city-centre footfall, the tracker found. But while March saw 12 out of 14 UK sectors monitored by the tracker report output growth, by contrast, many manufacturing sectors struggled to achieve higher production levels amid rising input costs and supply challenges, driven by the impact of the war in Ukraine. Soaring commodity prices and deteriorating supply conditions caused the output growth of food and drink manufacturers to fall to an eight-month low (50.1 versus 55.5). Cost inflation was most acute among food and drink manufacturers, which registered a reading of 94.3 – the sector’s highest reading on record. These factors contributed to the largest gap between the manufacturing (51.8) and service sectors (62.6) output indices since 2009. Jeavon Lolay, head of economics and market insight at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Alongside labour market shortages, the unrelenting pressure from rising costs represents another major challenge for most UK businesses. The tracker shows more businesses are raising prices, likely as a direct effort to help offset higher input costs. All eyes will be on how sustained and widespread this trend will be in the months to come.”

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