Scotland’s licensed sector back in growth

A long-term trend of decline in licensed premises in Scotland could be at an end, a new report from RBS based on CGA Peach data finds.

It concludes that Scotland has lost 1.9% of its licensed premises over the last five years—but over the year to last September, the number has increased by 86, lifting Scotland’s total number of premises to 11,316. Food-led sites are behind the positive trend. 

RBS’ report also measures the impact of important legislative changes in Scotland, including a tightening of drink drive limits. The average food pub in Scotland has seen sales decline by £1,370 a week since the changes, and 24% of Scottish consumers have reduced their frequency of drinking out. Rural pubs and restaurants have been hit much harder than urban ones.

The report identifies a successful independent sector in Scotland, with 76% of all licensed premises classed as independent free trade—compared to 63% in England and Wales. Scotland also has a high concentration of outlets in cities, with Edinburgh (503) and Glasgow (502) behind only London and Manchester in the list of UK cities with most licensed venues.

CGA Peach data on habits show that 73% of Scottish people eat out at least monthly—in line with the rest of the UK. But numbers eating out at least weekly are lower—35% in Scotland compared to 41% in England and Wales. And numbers drinking out weekly are lower still, at 32%.

The report was compiled from data sources including CGA Peach’s BrandTrack, BrandPulse, Outlet Index, Trading Index and Brand Index.

• The latest edition of the AlixPartners CGA Peach MarketGrowthMonitor will be published later this month, showing the latest site growth data for the whole of GB.