The number of outlets operated by the UK’s top 10 pub groups is expected to see 7% growth in 2021, according to analysis carried out by a leading research firm.
New data from the Lumina Intelligence Operator Data Index suggests that the market’s largest operators will continue to see their portfolios increase as a result of industry consolidation.
Of the top 10 pub groups, Stonegate is forecast to remain the largest estate by the end of 2021, with just over 4,700 pubs, 60% bigger than the second largest pub group, Star Pubs & Bars.
Admiral is forecast to see outlet growth of 71% (+674 outlets) by the end of 2021, following its acquisition of Hawthorn.
Despite pent-up consumer demand driving sales post-lockdown, overall turnover among the top 10 pub groups is expected to decline by 54% in FY2020/2021 compared with the previous year.
This follows a sharp decline between 2019 and 2020, with the overall 2021 forecast of £3 billion turnover significantly lower than the £9 billion turnover recorded in 2019.
Looking ahead, the report indicates that the use of technology and delivery services remains key to sales.
Pubs believe technological innovations can improve the consumer experience, especially during ordering.
The benefits of digital technology have shifted from minimising contact, to speed, convenience and the ability to track orders in venues.
Greene King has reported app usage accounted for 70% of orders taken, and Mitchells & Butlers noted trends of higher spend per head, premiumisation and trading up.
Katie Prowse, senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence, said: “The volatility of the market has allowed pub groups to review current strategies and restructure. Unsurprisingly, the impact of the pandemic saw the majority of the leading pub groups rationalise their estates. However, with merger and acquisition activity increasing, we expect many to grow their estates by the end of the year.
“Despite pent up consumer demand driving sales post lockdown, turnover amongst the leading pub groups is not expected to recover to pre coronavirus levels by the end of the year. Delivery and tech will be key to driving future growth. Consumers want to continue the benefits that tech and delivery offers from a speed and convenience perspective.”