British boozers beat rival quick service restaurants for customers

Family dining areas pioneered by companies like Greene King are pulling in repeat customers.

Britain’s boozers are continuing to grow in popularity for their food as much as their beers, and are rivalling the UK’s best-known quick service restaurants for customer numbers, a study has found.

NPD Group research has found that half of the British population now visits a pub at least once per month. This is more than visit quick service burger restaurants (45%) or coffee shops (44%).

Pubs have been particularly successful at boosting breakfast business. Visits to pubs at breakfast have grown by 128% to 100 million last year, up from 44 million in 2008.
“Pubs are learning more and more that food is the gateway to commercial success,” said Jack MacIntyre, NPD Group senior account manager, Foodservice UK.

“Chain-led pubs pull in the customers by appealing to a range of consumer motivations – from ‘quick drink’ to ‘family meal’. The striking increase in breakfast visits to pubs over recent years shows how well pubs have diversified into a very food-led occasion. Breakfast is an area in which pubs at one time had a zero presence.”

They now compete directly with the top foodservice players and will have to keep evolving to keep pace with their new rivals. “Pubs have to respond to the fast-moving, innovative and growth-oriented quick service food concepts that are doing so well on Britain’s high streets. Pubs need to keep on adapting so they offer a great experience, with a great range, at a great price,” MacIntyre suggests.

Pubs are using drinks promotions to encourage visitors to try out their premises – to bring in ‘food-led’ repeat business.

For the year ending December 2014, meal deals including a beverage were used in 18% of all food-led pub visits in which food is purchased. This is up from 15% for the year ending December 2008.

Creating a ‘casual dining’ setting to attract families for this trial-and-repeat strategy has proved successful; filling the gap between traditional ‘full service’ restaurants with waiter/waitress service, and the popular fast food chains.

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