Bumper Easter makes up for dismal March for eating and drinking-out

April 13, 2018

Strong trading over the Easter
holiday weekend helped lift the gloom for Britain’s managed pub and restaurant
groups – after a poor, snow-hit March.

Latest
figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that collective
like-for-like sales for the four days of Easter were up a healthy 5.9% compared
to the Easter weekend last year. In contrast, like-for-likes across the sector
fell 3.1% in March against the same month last year.

Snow in
March hit trading right across the pub and casual dining market, with London
like-for-likes down 4.3% and outside the M25 down 2.7%. Restaurant chains
overall were down 5.0%, and although managed pubs fared slightly better they
were still hit with a 2.0% decline in like-for-likes.

“It was
a month to forget, with the only slight cheer coming for managed pubs outside
of London which benefitted by people staying at home and away from work when
the snow fell,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in
partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

“Overall,
March was bad news, so the uplift in sales over Easter weekend brought almost
instant relief. Again all parts of the market benefitted,” added Martin.

Restaurant
chains saw the biggest Easter uplift, with like-for-likes up 8.0% compared to
the same four-day, Good Friday to Easter Monday, period last year. Pub group collective
like-for-likes were ahead 4.6%.

“Although
snow stops people travelling, the wet and dreary weather over Easter will have
helped to tempt people, and in particular families off for the break, to go out
to eat – so it should be no surprise that restaurants were the biggest
beneficiaries,” said Martin.

“But
it’s also worth remembering that Easter 2017 was not good for the market, with
sales down on 2016, due to it falling late in April and being disjointed from
school holidays in parts of the country. This year it wasn’t,” he added.

Trevor Watson, executive
director of valuations at Davis Coffer
Lyons
said: “It is best not to draw too many conclusions from the
March statistics as the adverse weather nationwide makes any meaningful
comparison difficult. The Easter performance is, however, a lot stronger than
many commentators might have predicted. We continue to see good demand for the
right sites and the market continues to be active against a background
of squeezed margins.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and
hospitality
at RSM, said:
“March was a brutal trading
month for the eating and drinking out sector. The ‘Beast from the East’
persuaded people to forsake their local restaurant or hostelry for the warmth
of home and delivery was unable to make up the shortfall. Although the weather
was a big factor, these faltering like for like sales are also a clear
indicator that the underling spending power of the consumer continues to
waver.”

Underlying like-for-like growth for the companies
in the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was
running at 0.8% for the 12 months to the end of March, down from 1.1% at the
end of February, including flat trading for casual dining chains and 1.2%
like-for-like growth for pub and bar groups. Total sales growth across the
cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was running at 3.8%
year-on-year at the end of March.

“Although the public is still going out,
their frequency of visits is not really changing, and with new openings still a
feature of the market despite some recent high-profile closures, people have
more choice and those visits are being spread across more brands. It’s
extremely competitive out there, and so operators are right to remain
cautious,” added Peter Martin.

The Coffer Peach Tracker
industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and
analyses performance data from 39 operating groups, and is recognised as the
established industry benchmark.

Participating
companies receive a fuller detailed breakdown of monthly trading. To join the
cohort contact Jake Dolby, jake.dolby@cga.co.uk

About
Coffer Peach Business Tracker

CGA
Peach collects sales figures directly 39 leading companies. Participants
include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter,
All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table),
Pizza Express, The Restaurant Group (Frankie & Bennys, Chiquitos, Brunning
& Price), Spirit Group (Chef & Brewer, Flaming Grill, Fayre &
Square), Casual Dining Group (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas), Stonegate
(Slug & Lettuce, Yates’, Walkabout), Deltic, TGI Fridays, Marston’s,
Azzurri Restaurants (Zizzi, ASK), Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Prezzo, Novus (Tiger
Tiger), Fuller’s, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Strada, Amber Taverns,
Hall & Woodhouse, Gaucho, Giraffe, Loungers, Byron, New World Trading Co,
Peach Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Laine Pub Co, All Star Lanes, Le Pain
Quotidien, Fazenda, Liberation Group, Wadworth, Honest Burgers, The Snug Bar, and
Downing LLP (investment partner of Antic London)
 

Coffer
Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix