Food dubbed 'lifeline' for pubs despite higher operating costs

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cask ale Public house

Food is being seen as a 'lifeline' for many pubs despite the costs involved according to the ALMR
Food is being seen as a 'lifeline' for many pubs despite the costs involved according to the ALMR
Food is being dubbed a 'lifeline' for many pubs, despite the operating costs involved in serving food being 7 per cent higher than they are in wet-led pubs, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) reports.

The figures, which show that 30 per cent of turnover now comes from food in a third of all pubs and demonstrate a 14 per cent improvement in profitability over the past three years, indicate that food rather than cask ale​, is the real saviour for most pubs.

And with two pubs closing every week, according to CAMRA's latest figures​, food could play more of a part in more pubs in the future.

ALMR chief executive Nick Bish said: “This report makes it crystal clear that food plays an integral part in delivering a sustainable and dynamic offer in today’s market place.

“Cask ale may still be a pub’s USP, but food is a vital part of the success story and is crucial for driving profits. The ‘gastropub’ phenomenon has spearheaded the reputation of pub food and its impact has been felt across the sector – not just in the increasing number of food-led pubs, but also in the sales mix across the sector as a whole.”

Operating costs

Employment costs involved in offering food were seen as the main reason for higher operating costs according to the ALMR's report, released to coincide with British Food Fortnight (17 September to 2 October).

Bish said: “The increased costs involved in delivering a high quality food offering should not be under-estimated. This research shows that the greater the turnover derived from food, the higher the operating cost of the outlet - and that goes for community and town centre pubs with a strong food offering just as much as food led outlets.

“Margins across the sector have improved and costs have come down from their peak, but the bottom line is you have to invest more to make a profit from food. This is something which has to be borne in mind in valuation and rental calculations as well as business planning.”

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