Pub and restaurant groups report positive January trading

17 February 2016

  • Collective like-for-like sales up 1.9 per cent on January 2015
  • Provinces see best of trading uplift

Britain’s pub and restaurant groups have reported a solid start to 2016, with collective like-for-like sales in January up 1.9 per cent on the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

'January is a slow trading month, so not too much should be read into these figures, but the sector will be pleased to have started what looks like being a challenging year on a positive note,' said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS.

Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 5.4 per cent on the previous year, reflecting the impact of new openings and the continued investment in sites, particularly among restaurant groups outside of London.

Companies trading away from London saw the best of January’s sales uplift too, with collective like-for-likes outside of the M25 up 2.4 per cent on last year, while London sales were essentially flat, registering just a 0.4 per cent increase.

'Generally, casual dining brands also out-performed pubs and bars, with January like-for-likes up 3.6 per cent nationally and 4.7 per cent outside of London. The capital was a tougher trading environment for all in January,' added Martin.

'This January’s pattern was similar to last year’s, when overall the market was up 1.4 per cent on 2014, and with restaurants outstripping pubs, perhaps reflecting the continued impact of dry January' he said.

'The weather also always plays its part. Although it has been extremely wet, it hasn’t snowed to any large degree and rain does not have the widespread disruptive effect that winter snow can have on people’s decisions to go out,' added Martin.

The long-term trend shows sector like-for-likes ahead 1.8 per cent nationally for the 12 months to the end of January against the previous 12-month period.

Paul Newman, Head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM, added: 

'The figures show yet another month of like for like outperformance from sites outside of the M25, which reflects the growing maturity of the wave of new site openings regionally over the past 12-24 months. This steady but slow overall growth is positive against the backdrop of highly volatile global equity markets. Although the volatility may have dented many pension portfolios, it has failed to impact the consumers' ongoing appetite for eating and drinking out.'

David Coffer, Chairman of The Coffer Group, said,

'The January like-for-like sales figures for inside London reflect, to some extent, the emotional sentiment Londoners experienced as a result of the November Paris atrocity. It is comforting to note the apparent small rebound in January. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues onwards through to the summer. 

'The superior like-for-likes for outside London are no surprise and confirms the trend of expansion away from an ever more expensive London market – in terms of property acquisition, and indeed consumer prices. This trend is expected to continue. The very high cost of London living is seeing the boundaries of Greater London extend to the provinces with many now commuting on a daily basis from provincial cities. This trend will also continue and further enhance trade outside of London.'

Jarrod Castle, Leisure Analyst at UBS Investment Research, also highlighed the improving performance of multi-site operators away from London: 'The 12-month moving like-for-like average inside the M25 ended at 1.1 per cent down from 1.3 per cent in December, while outside it was 1.3 per cent against 1.2 per cent in December.'

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 31 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.

Pub and restaurant group sales performance for last 12 months

  Feb   Mar  Apr  May Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec  Jan 
LFLs   1.6%  -0.3%  1.2%  2.1%  1.7%  1.1%  0.6%  1.2%  2.5%  -0.2%  1.3%  1.9%
Total  5.8%  3.7%  5.2%  6.2%  5.8%  4.8%  4.3%  4.6%  6.1%  3.5%  4.7%  5.4%

Source: Coffer Peach Business Tracker

Participating companies receive a fuller detailed breakdown of monthly trading. To join the cohort contact Molly Nicholas.