The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, whose members run 23,000 outlets and employ over 650,000 people in British pubs, bars and restaurants, says the vote to the EU has severely dented confidence in the industry.
Despite positive economic news over the summer, Kate Nicholls, CEO of the ALMR, said operators are still concerned.
“The slight upturn in business volumes during a quarter of uncertainly after the EU referendum is very welcome news. It underlines the increasing importance of hospitality – led by pubs, clubs and restaurants – to the UK economy. Employment in our sector, which represents around 10% of total employment, also grew.
“But the [CBI quarterly Service Sector] survey also shows the sector’s confidence at its lowest since 2009. This tallies with feedback from our members and CGA Peach’s recent research that showed that while 75% of operators were optimistic about market prospects in January, that figure has plummeted to 15%.
“With Britain’s increasing reliance on our sector as an economic driver, it is crucial that the Government’s Brexit negotiations safeguard factors upon which we heavily rely, such as the employment of immigrant labour at a time when we already face a skills and employment shortage.”