Pubs ‘outperform expectations’

Report says expected wave of properties did not hit the market in 2021

The expected raft of closures didn’t materialise in 2021, said Christie & Co
The expected raft of closures didn’t materialise in 2021, said Christie & Co

THE UK pub sector performed stronger than expected last year, despite the challenges of ongoing coronavirus restrictions, according to property company Christie & Co.

The company’s latest Business Outlook report stated that the “wave of distress” the agency had predicted to happen in 2021 did not materialise, and that, in fact, demand for pub properties outstripped supply.

However, the property firm did speculate that factors such as the end of VAT relief and staff shortages – as well as multiple operators choosing to “re-evaluate” their estates post-pandemic – could bring more pubs onto the market in the course of 2022.

“During 2021 we saw demand exceeding supply for the right kind of assets and this resulted in positive price movements, notwithstanding the operational and financial challenges that COVID brought,” said Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co.

“As we move into 2022, and with hopefully the worst of the pandemic behind us, we can expect a more normal trading environment with an increasing number of buyers and sellers returning to the market.”

Similarly, a “staycation boom” across the UK last summer was said to have buoyed the hotel sector, and Christie & Co said it did not expect a large number of “distress” sales in 2022.

The news on the restaurant front was less positive.

The pandemic is said to have exacerbated a downward trend in the restaurant sector of the property market, and the company predicted there could be “further casualties” in the course of 2022.

“Prior to the pandemic the restaurant sector was already suffering the ill effects of over-expansion, particularly on the high street, and COVID simply accelerated this distress,” said Owens.

Takeaway and delivery, franchised businesses and “quick-serve” restaurants were said to have seen the biggest growth in 2021, particularly in suburban and village locations.
However, the report predicted “a return to major towns and cities during 2022”.