Real growth in eating out

Casual dining on the rise, report says

• High street brands and pub operators have improved service while remaining price competitive.
• High street brands and pub operators have improved service while remaining price competitive.

THE UK’s casual dining market is set for expansion in 2014, according to business consultancy Horizons.

The firm has predicted that the casual dining sector will see “real growth” in 2014 as consumers slowly regain confidence and increase their spending on eating out over the course of the year.
Growth in the overall foodservice industry is expected to be gradual and restricted to particular sectors, as customers continue to seek value-for-money, good quality food and high levels of service.
According to Horizons, casual dining businesses – where eating out costs from £10 to £20 per head – and the takeaway and ‘drink-in coffee’ sectors will be among the first to see improvements.
Paul Backman, managing director at Horizons, described casual dining businesses as the “success story” of recent years.
“Consumers have traded down from more formal dining to establishments with more flexible menus, extended opening hours and value for money food,” said Backman.
“With competition strong in this sector operators, including high street brands and pub operators, have concentrated on improving their service, offering more innovative dishes and remaining price competitive.
“This has kept customers dining out and as the market picks up even further these establishments will benefit from the loyal customer base they have built throughout the downturn.”
However, the report also found that food businesses could face increased competition from coffee shops.
The firm predicted that larger coffee chains are likely to focus on food as a way of growing profits.
“The UK’s coffee market is rapidly approaching saturation point,” said Backman.
“There’s a limit to the number of new stores and new delivery concepts that can open as almost every high street in the country seems to boast a Costa, Starbucks or Caffe Nero.
“The coffee chains will be forced to re-examine and improve their food offer even further, and perhaps even their coffee offer, as the artisan specialists and patisseries start to make more inroads in the market.”