15 May 2013

Pub and Restaurant Groups Sales’ Recovery in April After Big Freeze

Britain’s pub and restaurants groups returned to sales growth in April after a disastrous weather-hit March. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show collective like-for-like sales edged up 0.1% against April last year, compared to the 3% fall seen in March.

“Last April’s figures included all of the Easter weekend. This year’s only took in Easter Monday, so the performance is actually better than the headline numbers suggest, as the Easter holiday is always a busy time for eating and drinking-out,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the Tracker, the sector’s biggest and most comprehensive performance barometer, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tillyand UBS.

“The good weather at the end of the month helped to compensate for the loss of that Easter trading,” Martin added. Total sales, including the impact of new openings, were ahead 2.8% of last April.

Regionally, London performed most strongly than the rest of the country, and pubs generally did better than restaurants – with London pubs being the star performers.

“However, the squeeze on growth we have seen on casual dining restaurant brands in London may have turned a corner. For the last six months, the trend has been one of like-for-like sales decline, but last month the annual rate turned positive, up by 0.3% on a year-on-year basis,” said Martin.

Also looking at long-term trends, he added: “Perhaps more importantly the underlying growth trend for the sector as a whole has improved.” On a year-on-year basis, collective like-for-like sales for the 27 companies in the sample were ahead 0.9% at the end of April against the previous 12 months, compared to 0.6% at the end of March.

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “The overlap for the Easter trading period has confused data but, nevertheless, the stronger trend in London compared to the rest of the country is still very evident, with the impact of weather conditions also having a great impact on an increasingly fickle and sophisticated public.

“With the continuing draconian measures of central London planners and their resistance to new restaurant and leisure development, it will be interesting to see the effect of this policy over the next year. There may well be fewer openings but higher concentrated turnover per unit as stragglers get sold to more professional operators. The proposals of the West End Commission, if adopted by all stakeholders, will also have an impact on central London trade, as vehicular access is increasingly restricted.”

Paul Newman, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly added: “The longer term trends are becoming increasingly encouraging, particularly in London. Year-on-year total sales growth of 5.6% inside the M25 is reflected in the bullish attitude of operators we are speaking to, with plenty of new site openings in the pipeline. However, concerns continue to gather pace over the potential overheating of the new site rental market. Balancing top line growth against a deterioration of new site operating margins will need careful management.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS European Leisure Research, said: “Comps were weak with April 2012 like-for-like sales being down 2%. However, growth was tempered by March seeing much of the positive impact from Easter trading. Total sales growth of +2.8% implies new sites continue to contribute around 2.7% of revenue growth, in line with trading since the start of 2013. Looking forward, we expect the good Bank Holiday weather and improving momentum to aid growth in May, although comps do toughen to +2.6%.”

The Coffer Peach Business Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 27 operating groups, representing combined annual turnover of £6.4 billion, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker

Peach Factory collects sales figures directly from 27 leading companies. Participants include: Mitchells & Butlers (owners of Harvester, Toby, Browns, All Bar One, etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Gondola (PizzaExpress, Zizzi, ASK, Byron), Spirit Group (Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Tragus (Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Strada), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’), Marston’s, Orchid Pub Co, Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Fuller’s, Bramwell Pub Co, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Amber Taverns, Hall & Woodhouse, Gaucho, Las Iguanas, Intertain, Tattershall Castle Group, La Tasca, Giraffe and Le Bistrot Pierre.

Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix