Brexit has already had a negative effect on just under a fifth of Scotland’s hospitality sector, a new survey ­suggests.

The Scottish Licensed Trade ­Association (SLTA) market review surveyed 500 outlets and found 17 per cent reported issues caused by Brexit, such as less bookings or loss of staff.

One in four expect to lose staff due to the UK leaving the EU, with 65 per cent expecting wider staffing issues to continue.

Other results show a more positive picture for the industry, with a rise in outlets showing growth from 39 per cent at the end of 2017 to 48 per cent a year later. But one in seven are in serious decline, rising to 21 per cent in rural areas.

Despite the concerns, there is increased optimism.

At the end of 2018, around one in six (59 per cent) were either growing or stable and this is projected to rise to 66 per cent by the end of this year.

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “After a number of years of decline, our summer report ­indicated a recovering market and this trend has continued over the festive period, with 69 per cent of outlets either growing or stable at Christmas, versus 59 per cent for the whole of 2018.

“However, there are concerns, ­particularly around Brexit and in rural outlets, where pubs are critical to the community and key employers. More than 20 per cent are in serious decline.

“Our members are also concerned about Brexit, with 40 per cent anticipating losing staff with whom they have invested in training and 17 per cent already seeing negative impacts.

“Looking forward, we anticipate a continued recovery in 2019 with the growth being led by food, online bookings and locally sourced gins and beers.”

Alistair McAlinder, of survey sponsors KPMG, said: “Unsurprisingly, Brexit has been cited as a key challenge, with associated staffing-related considerations of most concern.

“Whilst uncertainty persists, it remains unsettling for business owners and employees alike. Operators should seek to understand options for employees and the possible cost implications.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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