November delivers sales uplift for pub and restaurant groups

December 14, 2017

Sales in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants enjoyed
a welcome uplift in November after flat trading across most of the last six
months, with collective like-for-like sales up 2.2% on the same month last
year, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker reveal.

Pub groups produced the best figures
with collective like-for-likes ahead 2.8%, with drink-led businesses doing
best, while restaurant chains were also positive with like-for-likes growth of
1.2% against November last year.

Trading away from London was also
stronger than in the capital, with like-for-like sales outside the M25 up 2.7%
for the month, compared to 0.9% inside the M25.

“November’s numbers will be welcome
news for a sector that has been hit hard this year with rising cost pressures
across property, people and food, all squeezing operational margins,” said Peter
Martin, vice president of CGA, the
business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

Total sales growth in November among
the 38 companies in the Tracker cohort was 5.9%, compared to the same month
last year, reflecting the continuing if much more subdued effect of new
openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year, particularly
among restaurant brands.

“For the first time in years, managed
pub and bar groups are opening new sites at a faster rate than casual dining
companies,” added Martin.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the
sector, for the 12 months to the end of November, remained unchanged, running
at 1.2%, with total sales growth over the 12 months steady at 4.1%.

Trevor
Watson,
executive
director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said:
”It seems the reduced
rate of new restaurant openings is helping to sustain like-for-like
comparisons. The figures are somewhat stronger than some commentators were
fearing, which will hopefully translate to some pleasing results over the
festive period and that there will be some reasons to be cheerful as we enter
the busiest trading season.

“The figures are a
particular relief for restaurant operators, who over the last two years have
seen their underlying like-for-like growth rate cut by more than half due to
competition from start-ups concepts and new brands who have increased choice
for consumers in UK market towns and major cities.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “The upbeat November results will have
provided some respite for hard-pressed operators in the run up to Christmas. As
the economic squeeze on living costs sees the emergence of a more
cost-conscious consumer, it will be interesting to see which operators break
rank to hike menu prices. With the all-important festive trading season in full
swing, the sector will be looking to claw back lost margin to shore up finances
ahead of the tougher first quarter of the New Year.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK
pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 38
operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.