As our cover may have given away, it's that time of year again and we are proud to present our State of the nation research. More specifically we have been investigating the world of coffee shops, having spoken to over 500 outlets to obtain our exclusive annual insight.
As usual, my eyes were immediately drawn to the question 'was business in 2017 better or worse than 2016 for you?' It reveals that 79% of those quizzed said 'better' or 'same' (56% better, 23% same). This may appear to be broadly positive – until you consider that in last year's research the figure was 91% (62% better, 29% same).
Reading this reminded me of a worrying statistic that I saw very recently from the national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young: that 35 of the UK’s Top 100 restaurant groups are now loss-making. And this figure is up 75% from just 20 last year. This news can't come as a huge surprise when you consider the plight of some high street chains, with EAT allegedly considering closing some of its 100 branches, and with things having sadly gone pear-shaped for Square Pie, with it having to close all of its outlets in February (and that's before we even get to Jamie Oliver).
The simple explanation for this appears to be that there are too many variables that are currently moving in the wrong direction at the same time. The fact is that the market is becoming oversaturated while costs are also rising, due to factors such as the National Minimum Wage and food price inflation. Add in the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and you can see why our respondees were cautious in their responses.
We will look into this further next issue, when we will speak to some out of home experts to see why they believe industry confidence has declined over the past 12 months. And we’ll also be asking them what exactly can be done to ensure your business prospers in this environment over the next 12.