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Restaurant market 'to become more competitive'

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An improving economy will see the restaurant sector become even more competitive next year, according to one market expert.

Peter Backman of food service analyst Horizons told Caterer Search that the dynamics of the restaurant industry are shifting, with an increasing number of operators focusing on the segment he described as "fast casual" dining.

He said this segment is "characterised by a spend of £10 to £20 per meal on average and is worth around about £4.6 billion". Mr Backman explained that this "whole market is getting very competitive".

Speaking during the Arena Christmas Lunch at London's Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, the expert said he can foresee the advent of some fresh challenges for the industry in the coming years.

"It has been complicated by the fact that we are seeing the top-end quick service operators getting into the restaurant market. We are seeing a real battleground emerging here," he told the publication.

While spending on kitchen equipment is likely to increase as operators continue to expand and open up new branches, Mr Backman said problems could develop if companies begin to pay over the odds for new sites.

"At that point, their financial stability comes into question. I can see a bubble building and some concerns as they then move forward," he explained.

However, Mr Backman also said this situation is unlikely to materialise until "real consumer confidence returns to the market", a development he believes is unlikely for "a couple of years at least".

The analyst's comments follow a report commissioned by Steelite International that highlighted the importance of restaurant cutlery and tableware in an increasingly competitive market.

It warned that many operators are still treating their tableware as "an afterthought", despite the fact that many consumers consider the quality of cutlery and glasses when deciding where to eat out.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801505104-ADNFCR

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