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Wed 2nd Jan 2013 - Breaking News - December trading updates

December trading updates:

Ego Restaurants reports like-for-likes up 14 per cent: Ego Restaurants, led by James Horler, has reported like-for-like sales growth of 14 per cent at its eight suburban restaurants in December. Business was boosted by creating two price-points with the food offer 25 per cent less expensive on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday compared to the rest of the week. The four-strong wet-led sister company Rocket Restaurants, which is rated as offering the fourth best pizza in London, had positive trading, too, with like-for-like sales up by seven per cent. The new 3,000 square foot Bishopsgate restaurant exceeded expectations and traded at over £50,000 per week for the key weeks of December. The newly refurbished Rocket@Saltwater in Nottingham had sales growth of 20 per cent for the period. Horler told Morning Briefing: “Advance bookings were significantly ahead of last year and we are generally pleased with the outcome. Out of London trading appears to have stabilised and may even be improving. We’ve had a very strong seven months at Ego Restaurants. Generally, the corporate market is up by 15 to 20 per cent on a couple of years ago.” This month, Ego is offering 30 per cent discounts and Rocket has launched a series of five offers across the week, including a “Friendship Friday” offer where discounts ratchet up based on bookings – pre-booked parties of two receive a 25 per cent discount, parties of three receive 33 per cent and a group of four earns a 50 per cent discount. Ego Restaurants is aiming to have its Christmas 2013 menus completed by the end of February this year with a launch in Spring planned. 

Innventure reports December like-for-likes up 7.2 per cent: Innventure, the six-strong operator of pub restaurants led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, has reported like-for-like sales rose by 7.2 per cent in December – with sales up around nine per cent if New Year’s Eve, which fell into the last December full week last year, is included. Gerard said sales growth overall hit 23 per cent if the company’s latest opening, the Cross Keys in Saffron Walden, which opened in May 2012, is included. The third week of December, which ended on 22 December, showed the most improvement with 18 per cent like-for-like sales growth. Innventure posted six per cent sales growth in the first week of December with flat sales in the second week. The company’s star performer was the Broadway in Letchworth, which posted two weeks of sales in excess of £50,000 net during December.

Atmosphere Bars and Clubs – Christmas was a sober affair: Operator of Chicago’s Atmosphere Bars and Clubs has reported that Christmas was a “sober affair” although Christmas bookings were up 50 per cent on last year, generating 20 per cent of December income. Chief executive Paul Harbottle said: “Like-for-likes sales are still being assessed in detail, with New Year’s Eve falling into a different period this year versus last. However, indications are that sales were down on last year by circa 10 per cent. Christmas this year was a planned event. The spontaneous after work party or extended night out did not happen to the same extent as last year. Underlying walk-in custom was in line with a normal month rather than a normal December. Mad Friday (21st December) was excellent and extended into the weekend, with Saturday being as busy as Friday. However the weekend of 28th and 29th December was poor, but consistent with the level of trade six years ago, when Christmas fell on a Tuesday. New Year’s Eve was a good night, with total company sales level on a par with last year. On a positive note, five venues (20 per cent) delivered record ever sales in one of the five weeks leading up to the New Year.”

Inventive Leisure – Revolucion de Cuba sites performed well: Revolution vodka bar operator Inventive Leisure has reported that sales in December were broadly flat on a like-for-like basis. But the company reported it was pleased with the outcome after the first two weeks of the month saw sales down. Chief executive Roy Ellis told Morning Briefing: “The overall result was good if you play around with the numbers – the first two weeks of December were not great and numbers were down. The way Christmas fell was better than last year with a “genuine Friday” – a final working day. Christmas Eve is normally more subdued that a normal Saturday. This year we had the Saturday trading and then a Christmas Eve to follow.” Ellis said the company’s embryonic four-strong estate of Revolucion de Cuba rum bars had all performed exceptionally well – the Manchester site took just short of £200,000 in the third week of December. “We’ve been flying in Manchester – we’d love to open more Revolucion de Cuba sites.” 

No Saints Group reports double digit like-for-likes: No Saints Group, the business run by nightclub veteran Stephen Thomas, has reported like-for-like growth of 10.3 per cent at its two Jam House venues in December and 12 per cent at its four nightclub trading for a full year. Highlights included the Jam House in Edinburgh taking £104,000 in the third week of December and Jam House in Birmingham achieving turnover of £152,000 for the same week, with a 60/40 liquor and food split. The Milton Keynes Wonderworld site saw takings of £60,000 on New Year’s Eve whilst newly opened Maidstone site achieved sales of £46,000. Thomas told Morning Briefing: “Christmas couldn’t have fallen better for us and January like-for-likes will be helped by New Year’s Eve falling in the first trading week of the month.”

Luminar – slow start but New Year’s Eve beat expectations: Luminar, the UK’s largest nightclub company, has reported that December trading saw a slow start but New Year’s Eve was strong. Chief executive Peter Marks said: “New Year’s Eve exceeded our expectations, with the majority of our 56 strong estate operating at capacity. Our operating model allows for managers to set pricing and opening hours depending on the local market. Therefore, some of our clubs were fully booked on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day whilst others were closed. Overall, trading was as expected, with a slower start compared to last year but gradually building momentum to give us a strong finish.”

How was December trading at your business? E-mail paul.charity@propelinfo.com

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