Pub owners raise concern over Brexit hit but forecast strong second half
Scotland’s hospitality sector continues to feel a negative impact caused by Brexit but pub owners remain optimistic of a favourable end to the year, new data suggests.
More than a quarter (28 per cent) of Scottish licensed premises think the UK’s departure from the EU is hampering their business, according to the latest half-year review of the on trade by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA). This marks a significant rise from 17 per cent expressing the same sentiment at Christmas.
Despite the possible impact of Brexit, 56 per cent of outlets surveyed reported their business as “growing” or “stable”, with local food and drink and online bookings highlighted as key drivers of the market.
The on trade also recorded a boost from this summer’s Women’s World Cup, with 15 per cent of outlets reporting an increase in sales during the tournament.
The number of operators reporting growth has fallen to 26 per cent, down from 48 per cent in 2018, with the survey pointing to tough comparables due to last year’s summer heatwave and men’s football world cup. Traders are increasingly upbeat about the second half of 2019, as 72 per cent anticipate growth or stability, with Scottish gin, online bookings and craft beers forecast to drive sales.
The report, based on responses from 500 outlets, aims to provide key insights on Scotland’s burgeoning food and drink sector.
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, said: “Our survey covers all types of licensed premises and is an indicator of the key challenges facing the wide range of small to large businesses which trade within the wider hospitality sector.
“Up against a buoyant market in 2018, fuelled by the World Cup and a hot summer, there has been a slight slowdown in the market but retailers remain optimistic for the rest of 2019. But there are concerns, particularly around Brexit.”
Alistair McAlinden, head of hospitality and leisure at KPMG in Scotland, the survey’s sponsor, added: “In what remains a highly uncertain trading climate, it is very heartening to see that more than half of operators report their business as being stable or growing.
“Whilst Brexit uncertainty persists, and regulation remains a key challenge, it is more crucial than ever for operators to proactively and regularly review contingency plans. Focus and caution must be borne in mind as the changing winds of autumn approach.”