Pubs and restaurants recovering from the recession?

While the economic downturn has proved difficult for businesses across the UK, not least the hospitality industry, new figures could suggest that pubs and restaurants could now be on the road to recovery.

Analysis of corporate insolvency numbers by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that 332 companies in the hospitality and leisure industry became insolvent in the second quarter of 2012 – a decrease of 22 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

And according to PwC, this drop has been largely driven by a decline in insolvencies for pubs and restaurants.

Robert Milburn, the accountancy firm's head of hospitality and leisure, speculated that a shift in consumer habits had led to growth in the restaurant industry – which could lead to an increase in new openings and the creation of management and chef recruitment opportunities.

"Eating out has become a key lifestyle activity for many consumers, thanks to increasing availability and choice, particularly in the casual dining segment," he said.

"We see continued long-term development in the sector, with opportunities emerging from the development and roll out of new concepts."

Meanwhile, the pub and club sector is in a "phase of transition" as it adapts to the new economic conditions, said Mr Milburn.

"Although hit hard by the combination of recession, smoking ban and competition from 'drinking-in', parts of the pub sector are coming out of recession, having been first in, and there are good stories as a consequence of closures taking out some over-capacity and pub groups restructuring and consolidating."

However, despite the promising figures, business owners and managers in the hospitality and leisure industry still need to work hard to attract customers at a time when many members of the public are reducing their spending on leisure activities.

"Only time will tell if hospitality and leisure insolvencies reached their peak in the first quarter of 2012 and are now on the decline, but recessionary pressures on leisure spend are certainly expected to continue over the next 12 months," said Mr Milburn.

"This limited spending is likely to focus around those leisure activities with an element of treat and experience. However, despite cyclical pressures, leisure remains a key component of consumer spending."

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency in the food industry