14 November 2012

Later School Half-Term Hits Pub and Restaurant Sales

Later school half-term holidays caused sales in Britain’s leading pub and restaurant groups to dip in October. Collective like-for-like sales were down 1.7% on the same month last year, according to latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the industry’s sales barometer.

Total sales were up 1.6%, reflecting continued new outlet openings by the leading operators, but were still behind the current year-on-year growth trend.

“School half terms, usually a good week for eating-out sales, were generally a week later this year. In many parts of the country they fell within the November sales period, hence the dip in October numbers against last year. The benefit will not be seen until the next set of figures,” 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.

Underlying figures for the 12 months to the end of September, show combined total sales for the 25 companies providing data for the Tracker were up 5.7% on the previous 12 months, with combined year-on-year like-for-likes running ahead 1.5%.

“That gives a more accurate picture of the health of the eating and drinking-out market,” said Martin. “There is modest like-for-like growth, but the chains are continuing to expand total sales by opening new sites and that way are gaining market-share.”

Bad weather at the end of September held back sales growth in the previous month, with collective like-for-likes up just 0.7% That followed a 2.1% like-for-like increase for the sector in August.

“It reminds us that just like the weather, holiday periods remain a major influence on trading patterns for the eating and drinking out sector,” Martin added.

Regionally, the Coffer Peach figures showed the London market trading more strongly than outside the M25 during October, with pubs doing particularly well.

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.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “These are relatively solid in the context of the half term break falling in November this year. In a challenging economic environment leisure and hospitality continues to be a resilient sector. Institutional investors see the sector as an asset class in its own right. In comparison with retail and its many failures, hospitality is more defensive and does not suffer from competition from the internet. We expect to see stronger numbers to the end of the year.“

Ali Aneizi, M&A and private equity partner at Baker Tilly, said: “Last year’s warm end to the summer is impacting current LFL results. Outside of London has borne the brunt of this decline, while London has remained largely flat. October last year was the warmest since 2006 and the poor weather this year seems to have had an adverse effect. Overall results show a more positive picture, with an increase in year on year total sales and a net increase in the number of new site openings.

“Confidence in the industry remains positive, with interest from investors buoyant and rising. We are seeing increasing appetite from private equity and are working on several transactions in the sector. In addition, many will take comfort from Rutland’s investment in the UK Pizza Hut estate as a positive signal for the industry.”