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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn