16 April 2014

Pub and restaurant groups enjoy March sales surge

• Collective like-for-like sales up 4.6% on March 2013
• Results mark 12 months of positive growth for sector

Britain’s pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 4.6% in March against the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Total sales, including the impact of new openings, were up 7.1% on this time last year. The results mark 12 consecutive months of positive growth for the sector.

“Much of the increase can be put down to significantly better weather this March than last, when snow and freezing temperatures gripped the country, but that is only part of the story,” said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.

March 2013 was the UK’s joint second coldest since records began more than 100 years ago. The mean temperature was just 2.2C, more than 3C colder than the long-term monthly average. In contrast, March 2014 was warmer, sunnier and drier than the long-term average.

“However, that shouldn’t disguise the fact that despite monthly fluctuations, the 27 companies contributing to the Tracker have now collectively recorded positive like-for-like sales for each of the past 12 months – and the 4.6% increase in March more than makes up for the 3% sales drop in the corresponding month last year,” added Martin.

“Also, March last year included the start of the Easter holiday weekend. The benefits of Easter this year have yet to come. The managed pub and restaurant sector as a whole is performing well and the eating and drinking out market is showing consistently healthy signs of post-recession growth.”

Both pubs and restaurants benefited equally from this March’s bounce, although operators in London had the best of the uplift, with like-for-likes inside the M25 up 7.3%, compared to 3.4% for the rest of the country.

Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales for the Tracker sample are 2.4% up for the 12 months to the end of March, with total sales running 5.1% ahead.

An upbeat Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure said: “With the retail sector in disarray this is a positive growth story – 12 months of like for like growth is a clear demonstration that the eating and drinking out market is in long term growth. Not only in London and in traditional leisure destinations is there growth but across the board. Restaurants and bars are starting to breathe life into regional high streets up and down the country. This is a sector with innovation and tremendous prospects.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said: “Continued consumer confidence has driven yet another hugely impressive set of sales growth figures for the UK pub and restaurant industry. London has again led the way with like-for-like sales increasing by a magnificent 7.3% despite the important Easter trading period not being included within this year’s comparables. With average wages rising, a low interest rate environment and food price inflation at its lowest rate since February 2010, the outlook for continued growth in the sector is as fine as the recent weather.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, observed: “UK pubs and restaurants performed very strongly last month, and although March last year included the Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend, we think the benefit of Easter is still to come in April. As with previous months, LFL growth in London has outperformed the rest of the country, however site growth outside the capital continues to be stronger as chains build out. March completes a whole year of positive growth in the industry, and the 12 month moving average now stands at 2.0%, having improved over the past few months.”

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
CGA Peach 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.