Groups report positive January trading

Pub and restaurant groups have reported a solid start to 2016, with collective like-for-like sales in January up 1.9% 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% 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% on last year, while London sales were essentially flat, registering just a 0.4% increase.

“Generally, casual dining brands also out-performed pubs and bars, with January like-for-likes up 3.6% nationally and 4.7% 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% 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% nationally for the 12 months to the end of January against the previous 12-month period.

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.”

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.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, also highlight 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% down from 1.3% in December, while outside it was 1.3% against 1.2% 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. Participating companies receive a fuller detailed breakdown of monthly trading. To join the cohort contact Molly Nicholas, molly.nicholas@cgapeach.co.uk.

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker
CGA Peach collects sales figures directly 31 leading companies. Participants include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter, All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Pizza Express, Spirit Group (Flaming Grill, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Casual Dining Group (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, La Tasca, Las Iguanas), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’), Marston’s, Azzurri Restaurants (Zizzi, ASK), Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Prezzo, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Fuller’s, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Strada, Amber Taverns, Hall & Woodhouse, Gaucho, Intertain (Walkabout), Giraffe, Loungers, Byron, Peach Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Laine Pub Co and Downing LLP (investment partner of Antic London)

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