Larger pub chains have better recovery prospects from the pandemic than smaller operators and independents, and could even gain market share, according to global credit ratings agency S&P Global Ratings.

Its study on the economic effects of the vaccination programme and the lockdown roadmap on pubs has suggested that it will take up to three years for many operators to rebuild their financial profiles to 2019 levels.

S&P said that although booking levels appear healthy on reopening, it expects operating prospects to remain tough over the medium term.

In addition to the strength of larger pub chains to recover, the global ratings agency said it believes the managed pub model will fare better in the recovery phase “although operating performance will vary, with substantial earnings volatility across regions, operators, and formats”.

“The quality of tenants and their ability to adapt to their catchment will play even a bigger role than before, in driving leased and tenanted pubs operating prospects,” said S&P, adding that it expects that post-pandemic it expects the historical trend of businesses gradually converting leased and tenanted pubs to managed “will likely gather pace”.

The report, UK Pubs, Shaken And Stirred, Look To Recover After A Cocktail Of Headwinds, also said that some businesses would need to evolve from being drinks-led venues to making food a bigger part of their offering. It predicts that food-led operators with takeaway models and pubs that appeal to families will perform better than their drink-led counterparts.