The number of restaurants in Britain has fallen by 2.8% in the last 12 months according to the Market Growth Monitor quarterly review from CGA and AlixPartners.

High streets in the south of England were hit particularly hard by the closures of restaurants; according to the report, 15 restaurants closed each week. Britain had 768 fewer restaurants in March 2019 than 12 months previous, marking the fifth successive quarter of decline in the restaurant industry.

Most of the closures were of independent restaurants but group restaurants have also seen a decline of 1.1%. The south of England saw the worst decline with 2.8% closures compared with the north that fell by just 0.4%.

Group restaurants numbers on British high streets fell by 2.4% in the 12 months to March 2019, but there were net openings of 1.8% in suburban areas.

The review found that drinks-led pubs and bars had a relatively positive year as only 13 establishments are closing each week, compared to three years ago when 31 were closing a week. There were  244 net new openings of food-led pubs and bars in the last five years.

CGA vice president Peter Martin said: “CGA research has charted a remarkable surge in restaurants over the last decade but our latest Market Growth Monitor makes it clear that the gold rush is over. Some distinctive and resolutely customer-focused restaurant groups continue to flourish, but for brands that have over-reached themselves or lost sight of their proposition and purpose, there are undoubtedly more tough times ahead. Major challenges on British high streets, like rising costs and declining footfall, are adding another layer of difficulty.”

AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith commented: “The positive take on this clear out is that ambitious and well resourced- operators now have more headroom for growth, and the Market Growth Monitor identifies bright prospects for many groups in the drink-led pub and bar space in particular.

“Brands that can deliver a compelling premium drinks offer and strike the right balance with food have all to play for in 2019 and beyond. The next 12 to 24 months offer an opportunity for well-funded restaurant groups to expand into prime sites at much-reduced costs and if you can catch the right consumer wave the returns are impressive.”