16 October 2012

Weather Holds Back September Sales in Pubs and Restaurants

Bad weather at the end of September held back sales growth at Britain’s leading pub and restaurant groups in September. Collective like-for-like sales were up just 0.7% on the same month last year, according to latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the industry’s sales barometer.

The performance followed a 2.1% like-for-like increase for the sector in August. Total sales for September, including the effect of new openings, rose 4.1%.

“The first week of September saw a big boost in sales, but the downpour in the last week was a wash-out for business, and especially pubs, leaving overall trading essentially flat,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, the sector’s biggest and most comprehensive performance barometer, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.

“It goes to show that the weather remains a major influence on trading patterns for the eating and drinking out sector,” Martin added. “In September, the wet weather particularly depressed alcohol and pub sales, while food and eating out held up better.”

Regionally, the Coffer Peach figures showed little overall difference between trading inside and outside the M25, although pubs had a better time in London and high street restaurant brands did relatively better away from the capital.

“The good news is that even with that set-back, the bigger operators were still in positive growth and collectively continuing to gain market-share,” concluded Martin.

Underlying figures for the 12 months to the end of August, show combined total sales for the 25 companies providing data for the Tracker were up 5.8% on the previous 12 months, with combined year-on-year like-for-likes running ahead 1.7%.

The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 25 operating groups, representing combined annual turnover of over £6 billion, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.

Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The September results serve to remind us that consumer confidence remains weak. Although the corporate operators are growing market share, there is significant pressure on leisure spending for most households. Operators must continue to deliver value for money now more than ever. The need to continue to drive margin is intense as the recent failure of Waverley TBS indicates. The forthcoming Christmas period will be crucial to all.”

Paul Newman, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, added: “Leading operators will be disappointed that the 2.1% like-for-like sales increase in August did not last through September. Last year’s comparative sales were always going to be tough to beat, when the warmest end to September for over 100 years gave a late season boost to the industry. That was in stark contrast to this year’s downpours that persuaded consumers to stay at home.

“On a positive note, total sales growth up at 4.1% was more encouraging and demonstrates a robust and confident sector which continues to attract long term investment from pub and restaurant operators through the rollout of new sites and private equity interest.”

Jonathan Leinster, head of UBS European Leisure Research, said: “This year, month-on-month LFL sales data has not shown a consistent trend, but we would note that in current calendar year the average LFL sales growth has been only just positive, with four out of the first nine months showing LFL sales declines. This is a significant deterioration from 2011, which saw LFL sales at over 3% and only one month that saw an actual LFL decline. Indeed, 2012 appears more like 2010 than 2011.”

Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker Peach Factory collects sales figures directly from 25 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), Fuller’s, Barracuda, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Amber Taverns, Hall & Woodhouse, Ed’s Easy Diner, Gaucho, Intertain and Le Bistrot Pierre.