UK pub and restaurant group leaders have lost confidence in the sector due to fears of a no-deal Brexit, according to insight consultancy CGA’s latest quarterly Business Confidence Survey.

The survey shows market optimism is at its lowest since November 2017 with only 30% of industry leaders optimistic about the future of the general market; this is down nine percentage points from the last survey three months ago.

Working with hospitality technology specialist Fourth, CGA’s survey points at Brexit as a source of pessimism, with leaders worried about the long-term and immediate impacts of the UK leaving the EU.

While 44% said uncertainty was their biggest concern, 52% stated the potential consequences of Brexit was their biggest worry. Increased food prices post-Brexit worry 74% of industry leaders, and 72% are worried about increased labour costs, with 67% are concerned about a fall in consumer confidence.

CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said: “This is a sober message to the government from the country’s pub, bar and restaurant operators. It is clear that the long-term consequences of Brexit are front of mind in the industry at the moment, and leaders don’t regard this as simply a short-term problem.

“There is an urgent need for clarity around Brexit’s impact in areas like imports and the labour market, and this sector deserves support that reflects its enormous contribution to the UK economy.”

Fourth CEO Ben Hood said: “In an industry known for its positivity, energy and a can-do-will-do culture, our latest leaders’ survey is telling. Brexit and the prevailing uncertainty is clearly and understandably weighing on the sector. Against the spectre of a ‘No Deal’ exit, hospitality operators desperately need certainty over the future shape of supply, trading and immigration arrangements with the EU.

“With consumer confidence starting to tick down as well, these findings should sound the alarm in Westminster that Britain’s resilient, dynamic and world-class hospitality sector needs government to deliver clarity and a workable departure that protects our best interests.”