Innovative new dining concepts will be the key to the hospitality sector's success in weathering the recession over the next few years, according to food service analyst Horizons.
The insight came from Horizons' annual briefing earlier this week, which also highlighted that although the value of the eating out sector had risen to £42.8b in 2011, this actually represented a decline in real terms.
While recognising that there would be little growth over the next few years, Horizons managing director Peter Backman said he expected to see the food service sector attain 2006 levels by the end of this year and 2008 levels by the end of 2013.
The biggest segment driving this growth would be the midmarket sector - already worth £1.9b, according to Backman, who said: "This sector offers what the customer wants, at a price they can afford, and continues to adapt and change its offer to keep customers interested."
This sector's innovative ideas will drive the growth, Horizons' director of services, Paul Backman, added, citing pub restaurants, healthy eating concepts, coffee shops, gourmet burger chains and Japanese quick-service outlets as the concepts with the most potential.
But customer knowledge would also prove to be a key factor, he warned: "The challenge to the industry is to start to understand the consumer better - who they are, what they want and when they want it. Loyalty cards and voucher schemes offer the opportunity to find out much more about the customer."
By Emily Manson
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