It’s steady as you go for Britain’s managed pub and restaurant chains. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that collective like-for-like sales were up by 0.6% across the sector in July compared to the same month last year.
There was little difference between trading inside and outside the M25, with London ahead 0.5%, compared to a 0.7% like-for-like increase for the rest of the country. Restaurant chains just edged ahead of pub groups in performance, showing a collective 0.9% like-for-like growth rate against 0.4% for pub and bar operators.
“It’s an essentially flat market out there, wit the modest 0.6% growth rate exactly the same as we saw in June,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“Despite all the media talk of fragile consumer confidence, it appears that the British are continuing to go out to eat and drink much as they did last year – which is good news. However, the increased cost pressures that operators across the sector are facing this year, particularly from increases in business rates and food costs, mean that margins are being squeezed and businesses are feeling the pinch,” added Martin.
“Operators have been looking for efficiencies, but also increasing prices to mitigate rising costs. According to CGA’s latest Business Confidence Survey this summer, over 80% of operators have introduced at least some price rises this year, with a third implementing them across the board. These latest Tracker trading figures show that those rises haven’t stopped the public spending, but neither have they significantly boosted income for operators. It remains a tough market,” he said.
Total sales growth in July among the 37 companies in the Tracker cohort was 3.7%, reflecting the continuing if more subdued effect of new openings over the year. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.6% ahead for the 12 months to the end of July.
“The market is essentially stable, with little dynamic movement in any of the sub-markets, geographically or by sector. The good weather in July should have benefitted wet led venues which makes the relatively strong figures from the restaurant sector encouraging,” said Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons.
“These latest figures will be greeted with a degree of relief by operators. Despite household budgets becoming increasingly stretched, consumers continue to indulge in eating and drinking out. We’ve seen businesses who develop exciting and affordable concepts outpacing competitors and attracting investors keen to support ambitious roll out plans,” added Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK.