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Eating out sector to grow 3% to £82.5bn in 2014

Published:  17 February, 2014

The eating out sector will grow 3% in value in 2014 to £82.5 billion - the highest level of growth since the recession started - as consumer confidence returns.

Allegra Foodservice says emerging fast food concepts, coffee shops and the burgeoning street food movement will set the pace for growth in 2014. The improving economic outlook, which is boosting consumer spending power, will also see branded restaurant and managed pub chains expand their estates by 5.5% in 2014, up from 4.5% in 2013.

 The Allegra Foodservice Market Outlook report, which has online, in-depth interviews with senior executives across the sector, finds that the industry is positive about current trading conditions and that three quarters expect to see trade improve further during 2014.  However, the majority of survey respondents believe that full economic recovery will not take hold until the second half of 2015.

Executives said intensifying competition was a core business challenge and that building stronger customer loyalty was vital for success. Operators also said they had long-term growing confidence around increasing eating out activity.

Simon Stenning, Allegra Foodservice strategy director, said: "Eating out market value growth of 3% in 2014 will be the highest since the recession began and is clearly welcome news.  This will come from a combination of increasing consumer eating out participation, an uptick in visit frequency and some average spend gains as consumers start to feel more confident about their personal finances and spending power.

"However, the growth will be hard fought for in an increasingly competitive trading environment and gains will be patchy across the market.  The onus on operators will remain innovating on product, refining menu price architectures and adding greater value across the consumer experience to build stronger customer loyalty."