More pub owners are negative than positive about the future for their business, with cask ale and food seen as drivers of trade in the years ahead. That’s according to a survey of 312 pub owners by brewer Molson Coors, which found 35% believe their prospects for the next five years are poor or very poor - 28% see their prospects as good or very good. However, 80% believe sales of cask ale will rise. Eighty per cent of pub owners who serve food say a more enticing food offer would boost their business. Meanwhile, 85% saw the rising price difference between the on and off trades as a threat to their future success - 66% saw it as a major threat. Three out of four feared the impact of the home entertainment keeping people inside. Moves to give residents more control of licensing were seen as a threat to business by 61%; 40% fear the threat of drink promotions crackdowns. On a more positive note, 78% saw an opportunity in websites and apps to attract customers and grow their businesses. Simon Cox, independent on-trade sales director for Molson Coors UK, said: “It is obviously a challenging time for the on trade but we’re committed to working with our customers to help them provide the atmosphere, the products and the experience that will enable them to thrive even in this tough market. “It’s no coincidence that very similar or identical products found in pubs are easy to find on supermarket shelves, allowing very direct price comparison. By contrast, the products that are less easy to replicate seem to offer the best prospects for the on-trade. The clearest example of this is cask ale and successful food led outlets.”