12 February 2014

January sales bounce for pub and restaurant operators

• Collective like-for-like sales up 7.2% on snow-hit January 2013
• Despite floods, weather benefits eating and drinking-out market

Pub and restaurant groups enjoyed an upbeat start to 2014 – thanks to the weather. Collective like-for-like sales were up 7.2% on January 2013, a month that was badly affected by snow. Total sales, including the impact of new openings, were ahead 10.1%.

The latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the sector’s leading sales barometer, come on the back of a strong festive trading period for the nation’s pub, bar and restaurant groups, which saw like-for-like sales up 3.3% during the six weeks to 4 January.

“Although January was the wettest on record and parts of the country have been severely hit by floods, the wet weather hasn’t stopped people going out in the same way that the snow and freezing conditions across the country last January kept people at home. Last January sales fell 2.4% against the same month in 2012,” 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.

“Operators outside of London felt the biggest benefit, with like-for-likes up 7.5% against 6.6% inside the M25,” Martin added. “While all parts of the market performed better than last year, eating-out benefitted more than drinking out, with pub restaurant and casual dining chains together seeing a 8.4% like-for-like uplift.

“Although not too much should perhaps be read into the numbers because of the weather factor and because January is normally a quieter month, the scale of the increase will nonetheless add to the growing optimism we are detecting among operators in sector.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker collects and analyses data from 27 leading pub, restaurant and bar groups. Looking at the longer term trend, collective like-for-like sales for the group for the 12 months up to the end of January were running at 2.4% ahead of the previous year.

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “These figures reflect a continuing positive feeling that we are seeing throughout the sector. It is particularly heartening to see the growth outside the M25, which affirms the progressive confidence in the suburbs and provinces from operators with less dependence upon the Greater London area. It is now fully accepted that these non-London locations offer great opportunities in terms of value and customer support. This may well be an indication that central London is becoming overheated in terms of property costs. January’s figures indicate that we, as an industry, are coming out of recession fully – 2014 continues to look promising as a result.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, added: “A year ago, the talk was of heightened pressure on consumer finances leading to an underlying trend of a tightening eating and drinking-out market. Roll on 12 months and the outlook could not be more of a contrast. In our opinion, these sparkling like-for-likes on the back of a strong festive trading period provide further encouragement to operators to invest in their existing estate, in turn pushing demand for new sites to unprecedented levels.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, observed: “This is the strongest month of LFL growth since December 2011, and while we have now had two months of strong growth, they are significantly influenced by the weather and the festive period so we are cautious about drawing conclusions just yet.

“Food led pubs and casual dining chains were the best performers, and this continues a trend we have seen in recent months of strong growth within the eating out sector, and faster growth in food sales within the wet-let pubs. The 12-month moving average of LFL growth was lacklustre throughout 2013, finishing the year at just under 0.9%. But the strong performance this month skews the data, leading to a more positive result of 1.7%, the highest since March 2012.”

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.