Independents may gain as chains close

12th March 2018


Well-run independent operators have a chance to take back market share as casual dining brands close sites and scale back expansion, according to buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.


Operators who do their homework on the eating-out market, including implementing strong buying disciplines, can broaden their customer appeal, reports Lynx Purchasing MD Rachel Dobson:  “Since the start of 2018 we’ve seen a number of well-known casual dining operators announce branch closures, renegotiate with their landlords, and cut back on expansion plans. It’s clear that some brands had over-extended themselves. While every business is dealing with the challenges of more cautious levels of consumers spending, there are still customers ready to eat out if they are offered good value and quality. Many of the businesses we work with are independent restaurants, pubs and cafés, and we’re advising them to look carefully at their menus and suppliers, and make sure they are implementing sensible buying habits that will enable them to make the most of opportunities in the current market,” she said.


Lynx Purchasing highlights the changing eating out landscape in the Spring 2018 edition of its Market Forecast. Issues flagged up in the report include beef, where strong export demand is pushing up prices for UK customers, and the high profile investigation by the Food Standards Agency into catering butchers is also causing challenges. With fish, new regulations have been put in place that aim to significantly reduce catches and the report advises chefs to consider using high-quality, certified farmed sea bass, as an alternative. Dairy prices continue to fluctuate and while the price of butter is softening, it is still higher than a year ago. Meanwhile, the sugar tax, which comes into force in April, means some brands may implement a price increase over and above the tax itself.


Dobson continued: “There will be boosts to trade around upcoming occasions such as Easter, as well as two bank holidays and the Royal Wedding in May; and, as we know, it sometimes only takes a spell of good weather to persuade customers out to eat and drink.”