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A change in opening hours could benefit Northern Ireland's hospitality sector financially - The Irish News

A change in opening hours could benefit Northern Ireland's hospitality sector financially

More workers in Northern Ireland say they'd be happy to have their pints at times outside traditional opening hours

A survey carried out by Barclays has found that hospitality businesses in the north could benefit from an additional £191m a year if they changed their opening hours to meet the needs of flexible workers.

The Barclays corporate banking hospitality and leisure report shows that under half of Northern Ireland's workers now work the traditional hours of 9-5.

The report suggests that bars, restaurants and leisure clubs across the province could see an increase in revenue if they responded to the change in work patterns by adapting their opening hours.

A fifth of workers said that they need businesses to change their opening hours to suit their needs with 16 per cent of workers expecting 24-hour services across the hospitality and leisure sector.

Findings also show that the takeaway service industry is missing out on £74m. Over one in ten workers would choose to get a takeaway between the hours of 11pm and 5am, yet 30 per cent of Northern Ireland's workers have been unable to order a takeaway late at night.

Over a quarter of businesses in the sector recognise this growing demand but opening hours are not adapting with changes to modern working lives.

Adrian Doran, head of corporate banking at Barclays said:

“The current leisure environment does present a number of challenges for the sector's businesses; the labour supply is challenged by Brexit, rent increases and food inflation are all set within the context of an incredibly competitive market which is already heavily discounting. However, those that don't adapt to this type of newly developing consumer demand risk being left behind and in this ever-competitive environment, businesses need to weigh up the value of the long-term opportunity over the cost of the short-term investment.”

Colin Neill, CEO of Hospitality Ulster said:

"The demand for longer opening hours highlighted in the Barclays report reinforces the market trends that we are already experiencing. Backed by the growth in demand for experiential retail of which hospitality is a key element, this should be huge opportunity for our industry to expand our offering and increase revenue. But with pubs and restaurants opening hours limited by outdated licensing legislation, government is actually stopping us from responding to market demands and giving the customer what they want. Once again this report highlights the urgent need to modernise our licensing legislation.”

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