MORE than a quarter of pub owners in Scotland believe Brexit is having a negative impact on their trade, according to a new study.

The survey of 500 licensed premises across the country, including large chains as well as independent operators, found around 28% think the uncertainty around the UK’s departure from the EU has negatively affected them.

This is a rise on the 17% of premises that highlighted concerns over Brexit in a December study ahead of the UK’s original departure date of March 29.

Despite the possible impact of Brexit, 56% of the outlets that took part in the survey described their business as either growing or stable.

The figures were published by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) as part of its half-year on-trade market review.

The report also highlighted the positive impact of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, with some premises saying they had a rise in sales.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, said: “Our survey covers all types of licensed premises and is an indicator of the key challenges facing the wide range of small to large businesses which trade within the wider hospitality sector.

“Up against a buoyant market in 2018, fuelled by the World Cup and a hot summer, there has been a slight slowdown in the market, but retailers remain optimistic for the rest of 2019.

“But there are concerns, particularly around Brexit. In our Christmas survey, 17% of respondents said that Brexit had negatively impacted upon them and this number has increased to 28%.

“Looking forward, however, retailers are overall optimistic about their sector, with 72% anticipating growth or stability in the rest of 2019, with growth led by Scottish gin, online bookings and craft beers.’’ Alistair McAlinden, a director at accountants KPMG, which sponsored the study, said: “Whilst Brexit uncertainty persists, and regulation remains a key challenge, it is more crucial than ever for operators to proactively and regularly review contingency plans, including taking appropriate advice at an early stage.”