19 December 2011

Pub and Restaurant Groups See Sales Continue to Grow

Britain’s leading pub and restaurant groups saw sales continue to grow in November. Collective like-for-like sales were up 2.1% on the same month last year, with total sales, which include the effect of new openings, ahead 6.2% on November 2010.

It is the sixth month running that the eating and drinking-out-of-home market has seen positive trading. Like-for-likes increased 0.9% in October, on the back of a 2.8% rise in September, a 0.6% increase in August and a 1.0% advance in July.

The figures come from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which records monthly performance across 24 major pub and restaurant operators.

“Although below the headline rate of inflation, the figures demonstrate the underlying resilience of the market and that the public still want to out to eat and drink”, said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, in partnership with KPMG, UBS and the Coffer Group.

In contrast, the retail sector in November suffered its worst performance for six months, according to the British Retail Consortium / KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. UK retail sales values fell 1.6% on a like-for-like basis. Total sales were up just 0.7%.

“Going out to eat and drink seems to be the affordable treat that people are unwilling to give up,” added Martin.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Pubs and restaurant sales continue to hold up, although, as confirmed in the Punch Taverns announcement on Friday, there is very much a north/south divide.

“Restaurants are competing against heavy discounting a year ago, whilst in the managed pub sector sales are generally strong, albeit against a low base in 2010. Although the outlook is uncertain and operators are certainly being conservative with budgets, these figures show a relatively robust sector.

”There have been a raft of new restaurant and bar openings in London this quarter, not only with Westfield but in many central locations, and adding these sales we are seeing resilient consumer spending in the hospitality sector overall.”

Richard Hathaway, KPMG’s Head of Travel, Leisure & Tourism, added: “Monthly aggregated like-for-like sales are up and encouraging. The fact that the sector has shown yet another month of growth clearly demonstrates that those strong operators who understand their customers and provide them with ‘value’ can still deliver a robust performance in an austere and volatile economy.

“Next year is expected to be yet another tough one, but any ‘feel good factor’ during and in the build-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics should provide a much needed boost to consumer confidence and therefore the eating and drinking out sector.”

Jonathan Leinster, Head of UBS European Leisure Research, commented: “Consumers are still allocating discretionary spend to pubs and restaurants, but UK pubs stocks have continued to weaken, down on average 28% year-to-date, in part due to ongoing concerns over UK consumer spending.

“Today’s numbers again suggest that pub spending remains relatively resilient, despite weakness seen elsewhere in consumer-facing businesses. Indeed the latest UBS UK household cash flow published in November indicates that cash flow pre-savings should rise 1.6% in 2012, a significant improvement on 2011.

“We believe that consumers do find value in some of the pub offerings and maintain ‘buy’ ratings on JD Wetherspoon, Marston’s and Greene King.”