Key insights on Scotland’s burgeoning food and drink sector have been revealed in the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) Summer 2018 On-trade Market Review.
Almost 50% of respondents have reported growth during 2018 – an improvement on the prior year.
Scotland’s on-trade is showing signs of recovery with 49% of respondents reporting growth in their business – versus 39% in the last survey – and 74% either stable or in growth versus the previous figure of 58%.
National and local legislation, specifically around rates, remain key concerns for all operators, together with labour costs.
According to the report, the long-term outlook is “reasonably optimistic” with 83% expecting growth or stability for the rest of the year versus actual year to date growth/stability of 74%.
The report explained rural operators are less optimistic, but the trends are becoming more positive and 71% expect moderate growth or stability.
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, said the survey is an indicator of the key challenges facing the wide range of small-to-large businesses which trade within the wider hospitality sector, covering pubs, clubs and hotel groups.
While welcoming the findings, Wilkinson pointed to concerns, particularly in rural outlets, where pubs are often vital to the community, and/or key employers. “Within rural/countryside pubs, more than a third (36%) are still in decline,” he said.
“Government legislation is still a big concern, whether this is national or local legislation, with 63% highlighting these areas as big concerns, alongside business rates and increasing labour costs.”
The report is based upon quantitative research from 600 retailers covering the length and breadth of the country, and is supported by many of the major chains and the SLTA’s partners in the Scottish Bartenders Network.