20 June 2012

Pub and Restaurant Groups See Sales Pick Up in May

UK pub and restaurant groups saw a welcome 2.6% increase in collective like-for-like sales in May, according to latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker data. Total sales, which include the effect of new openings, were up 6.5% on the same month last year.

However, the improved top-line performance, following a 2% fall in like-for-likes in April, was not reflected in all parts of the business – with the weather again a big factor in influencing the public’s choice of where to go out.

“Pubs and pub restaurants were the best performers, and particularly those inside the M25,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and UBS.

“The hotter weather at the end of May was a help for them after a cool start,” Martin added. “High street casual dining chains generally had a tougher month, and especially in London where competition is fiercest.

“The annualised like-for-like sales growth rate for the leading groups is currently running at around 2%. New site openings are pushing up total sales by more than that, but that is also increasing competitive pressures, as consumers increase the number of brands they use as they shop around for better value, better quality and better experiences. Competition between brands and companies is becoming much more intense,” he said.

“We are also beginning to see the effects of casual dining chains trying to cut back on voucher activity.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 24 operating groups.

“Overall, the market remains volatile, like the weather, with see-sawing performances. April was down, although March was up, but that followed a very shaky start to 2012 in January and February,” added Martin.

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “These are very encouraging results. The only surprise is the level of progress being made on year on year like for likes. The big question is whether this growth will be sustained in the face of any significant developments in the Eurozone crisis. Further complications to the market will be the impact of the Olympics where the jury is out as to whether it will be positive or a big turn-off for the food and beverage market.”

Jonathan Leinster, head of UBS European Leisure Research, said: “Chain pubs continue to invest in new locations. This implies operators continue to believe the returns are more than acceptable despite the cost pressures and low LFL sales growth. Further opening can only lead to intensifying competition with high street dining under more pressure than pub-restaurants.

“June should see the benefits from the additional Jubilee holiday and Euro2012. However the weather has been unusually poor and the comparative period was strong and therefore it is not as clear cut as it should have been. To date the listed pub-restaurant operators have generally seen LFLs at a higher rate than the average for the Tracker, perhaps a reflection of their value offering.”

Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker Peach Factory collects sales figures directly from 24 leading companies every month. 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, Byron), Tragus (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Strada), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’), Spirit Group (Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Orchid Pub Co, Marston’s, Wagamama, Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Young’s, Hall & Woodhouse and Fuller’s.