Ditte Meynert, director of insight at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has said that the pub’s strong association with alcohol occasions needs to be weakened if the sector is to successful evolve and grow.

Speaking at MCA’s recent Marketing in Foodservice event, Meynert said that the role of the pub needs to adapt beyond eating and drinking.

She said: “Pubs are losing relevance and there is increased competition from adjacent sectors and as well as increased competition from other leisure activities. We (M&B) have been ‘fine tuning’ our propositions based on short & medium term trends – value, health, convenience and experience.

“Savvy shopping is here to stay, with rising expectations around quality and value. In terms of convenience, consumers are increasingly efficient and on-the-go lifestyles, which are being accelerated by technology.

“When it comes to experience, there is a continued search for the ‘new’ and ‘real”’– especially coming out the back of recessionary constraints. Finally there is health, consumers are making mindful choices aided by availability of information. They are looking for a balanced lifestyle – health vs indulgence.”

Meynert said that growth for pubs will be unevenly spread, with a city centre premium and suburban/rural premium bias.

She said: “The role of a traditional pub will still exist but it will be a niche opportunity.

“Pubs will have to offer reasons to visit above and beyond food and drink, cater for a broader range of occasions. Technology will play an important role as an enabler.”