Holiday season delivers boost for GB eating-out market

17 September 2018

  • London out performs rest of country with 1.5 per cent trading uplift
  • Restaurant groups recover with like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent

Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales edge up 0.6 per cent in August, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show - with more mixed weather bringing better news for the country’s casual dining chains.

Managed pubs saw collective like-for-likes grow 0.2 per cent against August last year, while restaurant groups were up 1.4 per cent for the month.

'These latest figures will come as a huge relief for restaurant operators, who have been under the cosh of late, not least because of the early summer heatwave which was great news for Britain’s pubs as the public headed outdoors, but little help for the country’s restaurant chains,' said Karl Chessell, director at CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

'More mixed weather during August and a damp bank holiday weekend will have helped the casual dining market,' he added. 'The school holidays will have also helped as parents looked to keep their families occupied.'

Regionally, London performed better than the rest of the country, with August like-for-like sales up 1.5 per cent on the same period last year, while outside the M25 trading was up just 0.4 per cent.

'The summer tourist season and the continuing good weather appears to have given an uplift to trading levels for restaurants in London, especially those with external seating,' said David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group. 'This is also reflected in the increase of like-for-likes in restaurant groups. This may well be a deceptive improvement as the impact of possible political upheaval begins to gain momentum over the coming months. The reaction of the UK restaurant public could swing either way in terms of seeking solace in food and beverage venues. Generally, we are seeing a continuing demand for restaurants in good trading locations but a drop-in demand otherwise. Premiums for leases are certainly at a five year low.'

Underlying like-for-like growth for the 47 companies in the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.5 per cent for the 12 months to the end of August, the same as it was at the end of July.

'Fierce competition, escalating input costs and flat like-for-like sales have contributed to the recently reported 2.5 per cent year on year fall in the number of licensed premises in the UK,' said Paul Newman, Head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM. 'Post inflation wage growth is helping to underpin consumer demand for eating and drinking out. With fewer sites now vying for this increase in discretionary spend, operators will be looking to capitalise. Whilst it is still a tough marketplace, these figures show there is still a lot of opportunity.'

Total sales growth across the pub and restaurant cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 3.2 per cent in August, reflecting a slowdown but not a halt in brand roll-outs, and was running at 3.7 per cent for the 12 months to the end of the month.

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 47 operating groups, with a combined turnover of over £9bn, and is the established industry benchmark.