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Ethnic restaurants must 'take hard look at their offering'

26 | 04 | 13

Ethnic restaurants in the UK need to adapt to combat a decline in the number of customers visiting them, a new study has claimed. 

Research by the NPD Group found that visits to ethnic takeaways and restaurants dropped by 123 million over the past three years.

Much of this fall is due to fewer people choosing to eat out at ethnic-based restaurants in the evening, which accounted for 121.7 million of the lost visits. 

There also been a drop in the 'revisit scores' posted on the internet compared to 2009. 

Some 17 million fewer consumers would "definitely" eat at a venue again, while nearly 12 million fewer would "probably" revisit. 

However, despite these worrying figures, sales of spicy foods in supermarkets have grown during the same period. 

This suggests the UK public still has a taste for ethnic flavours, but is simply choosing not to satisfy it at restaurants. 

“Ethnic food may not be perceived as the everyday good value it once was. To compete with the supermarkets, ethnic operators need to change the price/value equation by introducing deals and promotions that resonate with consumers," said Guy Fielding, director of business development for the NPD Group.

He described the study's findings as a "real wake up call" for ethnic restaurant operators to take a "hard look at their offering". 

"This not only includes the decor, atmosphere, layout and cleanliness of their establishments, but their service levels and promotions too."

Mr Fielding said venues must move from dark and dated decor to light and lively designs, which will help to ensure they remain a place where people want to spend time socialising with their friends and family.

While the struggles of ethnic restaurants may be worrying for catering equipment suppliers, the industry as a whole is coping reasonably well, despite the tough economic conditions. 

The latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures show that pub and restaurant groups' like-for-like sales over Easter were up by seven per cent on the same period last year.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801577854-ADNFCR

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