16 January 2014

Bumper Christmas and New Year for pub and restaurant groups

• National like-for-like sales up 3.3% on Christmas 2012
• Managed pubs in London best performers with 6.5% rise

Britain celebrated Christmas and New Year by going out to eat and drink. Latest figures reveal that the nation’s leading pub, bar and restaurant groups enjoyed a festive season boost, with collective like-for-like sales up 3.3% on last year. Total sales were ahead 6.1%.

Results from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the sector’s leading sales barometer, for the six weeks up to January 4th show that the London market out-partied the rest of the country with like-for-like sales up 4.4%, with drink-led pubs in the capital ahead 6.5% on last year’s sales figures.

“But that’s not to say it was all about going out for a drink,” said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker for the out-of-home market in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “Even in those drink-led pubs and bars, food sales saw higher growth than drinks. Food sales in those pubs were up overall 5.8%, compared to 3.2% for drink.

“While London pubs had an especially merry time, outside of the M25 it was casual dining restaurant chains that had the best of the seasonal business, with like-for-like sales up 4.0% on 2012,” added Martin.

“The weather as always played its part. Last year, the run-up to Christmas was hit by snow and freezing temperatures, keeping people at home, with heavy rain towards the end of December. Floods were a factor last year as well as this in many areas.

“Taking that into account, we would have expected better trading in pubs and restaurants this year, but what will have particularly cheered operators is the strong trading throughout the three key busy weeks from December 15th onwards,” said Martin. “All were up on the same weeks last year as more people went out to enjoy themselves. It shows that given the right occasion and offer, the public will go out and spend in the country’s pubs and restaurants.

“Putting that in context, monthly figures for December alone show a 3.0% like-for-like sales increase and 5.8% total market growth, making it the single biggest monthly increase since last February,” he said.

The Coffer Peach Tracker collects and analyses data from 27 leading pub, restaurant and bar groups.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Pub and restaurant sales are – for the first time – increasing in real terms and these figures show that sales are catching up with the country’s increasing ‘feel good’ factor. Whilst the retail sector has seen some high-profile failures, within the restaurant and pub market trade is generally more robust with most operators enjoying a good Christmas. Leisure is continuing to attract investment and investors are now beginning to reap the rewards. We predict sales will remain strong for the first quarter of 2014 and beyond.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, added: “A fantastic festive trading period has been shared by both the pub and casual dining sectors. With corporates finally beginning to loosen their purse-strings after four years of Christmas austerity, the anticipated strong holiday party season did not disappoint. Total sector year-on-year sales growth of 6.1% demonstrates clear outperformance of the wider economy and suggests that the UK’s recovery is well and truly consumer-led. In anticipating further medium term growth, operators have again invested in their estates with new site openings in the period. Let’s hope that the trend for embarking upon an alcohol free January doesn’t take the shine off a great start to the year.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, observed: “Like-for-like growth over the six week festive period reached 3.3%, and total growth 6.1%, compared to 2.1% LFL growth, and 4.7% total growth, over the same period last year, showing that comps were not particularly easy. This was a real Christmas gift for the eating-out sector.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 27 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.

Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker
Peach Factory collects sales figures directly 27 leading companies. Participants include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Browns, All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Gondola (PizzaExpress, Zizzi, ASK), Spirit Group (Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Tragus (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Strada), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’), Marston’s, Orchid Pub Co, Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Fuller’s, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Amber Taverns, Hall & Woodhouse, Gaucho, Las Iguanas, Intertain, Tattershall Castle Group, La Tasca, Giraffe, Loungers and Le Bistrot Pierre.