November delivers sales uplift for pub and restaurant groups

14 December 2017

  • Like-for-likes sales up 2.2 per cent nationally, against last November
  • Managed pubs and bars see best of November trading

Sales in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants enjoyed a welcome uplift in November after flat trading across most of the last six months, with collective like-for-like sales up 2.2 per cent on the same month last year, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker reveal.

Pub groups produced the best figures with collective like-for-likes ahead 2.8 per cent, with drink-led businesses doing best, while restaurant chains were also positive with like-for-likes growth of 1.2 per cent against November last year.

Trading away from London was also stronger than in the capital, with like-for-like sales outside the M25 up 2.7 per cent for the month, compared to 0.9 per cent inside the M25.

'November’s numbers will be welcome news for a sector that has been hit hard this year with rising cost pressures across property, people and food, all squeezing operational margins,' said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

Total sales growth in November among the 38 companies in the Tracker cohort was 5.9 per cent, compared to the same month last year, reflecting the continuing if much more subdued effect of new openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year, particularly among restaurant brands.

'For the first time in years, managed pub and bar groups are opening new sites at a faster rate than casual dining companies,' added Martin.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the sector, for the 12 months to the end of November, remained unchanged, running at 1.2 per cent, with total sales growth over the 12 months steady at 4.1 per cent.

Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said:

'It seems the reduced rate of new restaurant openings is helping to sustain like-for-like comparisons. The figures are somewhat stronger than some commentators were fearing, which will hopefully translate to some pleasing results over the festive period and that there will be some reasons to be cheerful as we enter the busiest trading season.

'The figures are a particular relief for restaurant operators, who over the last two years have seen their underlying like-for-like growth rate cut by more than half due to competition from start-ups concepts and new brands who have increased choice for consumers in UK market towns and major cities.'

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added:

'The upbeat November results will have provided some respite for hard-pressed operators in the run up to Christmas. As the economic squeeze on living costs sees the emergence of a more cost-conscious consumer, it will be interesting to see which operators break rank to hike menu prices. With the all-important festive trading season in full swing, the sector will be looking to claw back lost margin to shore up finances ahead of the tougher first quarter of the New Year.'

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 38 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.