Your Money: The cafe society needs researchers

Fancy a cappuccino? Then put your money where your mouth is, says Justin Urquhart-Stewart

Cappuccinos and croissants are flavours of the month now that we live in a cafe society, sitting on damp plastic chairs under dripping awnings in the romantic surroundings of our local high street.

Real shops in town centres almost seem to be in a minority these days, as every variation of cafe, small restaurant and fast food outlet competes for our custom.

You would have thought this should have happened in the last consumer boom, a time of brash "champagne Charlies". Yet this strange phenomenon has come about only since the end of the mid-Eighties. In fact, I believe that the more demure, sophisticated world of "cappuccino Charlottes" is a reflection of how our spending habits are changing.

Evaluating this phenomenon is one of the best ways of seeing where our future investment opportunities may come from. So what has happened?

A decade ago there was still a significant level of employee confidence. Full-time work and jobs for life were considered typical. No more. The "middle-class" recession of the early Nineties meant that, for the first time, many in service industries were "rationalised" out of a job, or shifted to short-term contracts. This, in turn, led to the proliferation of that new term for redundees - the "consultant".

Add to this the collapse in house prices. As a result our spending inevitably changed. Gone is the heavy borrowing; gone also are the high-cost holidays and cars. That does not mean we have stopped spending, but rather that we have changed our style. Investment and saving have also been rising, and any improvement in our financial situation is spent on "good value" entertainment, which covers virtually anything in the leisure industry. From bowling to bingo, from soccer to squash, from cinemas to cafes. Themed leisure industries will be the growth area of the late Nineties.

As a result, our eating habits will be changing. Going out may include a meal, but not necessarily a three-course formal dinner. Increasingly this is being replaced by a family meal, often linked to a film or sporting event.

Already we can see the big brewing combines such as Bass and Whitbread moving in. The latter have just paid an eye-opening price for Pelican, which runs the Cafe Rouge chain, to add to their portfolio of leisure brands. More will come, as further income is drawn into the sector.

Other cafe styles have been cashing in, whether it is Rank expanding its Hard Rock chain, Planet Hollywood's global expansion, Capital Radio's new cafe in Leicester Square. Meanwhile, Internet Cyber-cafes for PC anoraks are spreading. The game is to find a theme quickly, let it blossom and then hope to find a leisure combine to buy the brand before fashion fades.

This initial fashionable phase will pass, and it will be only the sturdy few founded on good business and catering skills that will succeed.

For us as investors, this is one area where our personal knowledge can be brought to bear. Individual research is thoroughly recommended, not only to carry out your own evaluations, but also to prove that, on occasion, money and leisure can be successfully blended together

Justin Urquhart-Stewart is business planning director of Barclays Stockbrokers. He likes watery cappuccinos.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all