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Wed 18th Jun 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach Tracker: Pubs and restaurant saw 0.2% rise in May like-for-likes: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant operators saw sales growth slow in May after a strong start to 2014, with collective like-for-like sales up just 0.2% compared to the same month last year. It follows a 4.4% increase in April and a 4.6% advance in March. However, these latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that year-on-year same-store trading is still running at +2.9%, with May’s figures marking 14 consecutive months of like-for-like sales growth for the sector. Total sales for May, which include the impact of new openings, were ahead 2.5% on last year. “The levelling off of growth will be a reminder that recovery is not guaranteed, although the underlying trend for the market remains strongly positive as the public continue to go out to eat and drink. But competition from smaller and newer operators and also other leisure attractions remains fierce,” said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.“Overall, London performed slightly better than the rest of the country, with combined like-for-likes up 1.1%. But the capital still presented a mixed picture, with pub sales up 3% (4% for drink-led businesses), while casual dining chains saw like-for-like sales dip 1.3%,” Martin added.“Outside the M25, it was the other way around, with pubs suffering and restaurant groups seeing a 1.9% increase in like-for-likes. The big story outside London was that total sales for casual dining chains increased 9.1% on May last year, highlighting the continued roll-out of new branded sites away from London. Staying fresh and offering something new remains a big challenge for even the most experienced operator,” Martin said. The 28 companies now contributing to the Tracker have together seen positive like-for-like sales for each of the past 14 months. Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales were up 2.9% for the 12 months to the end of May, in line with the end of April, and with total sales running 5.4% ahead. David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “This month’s figures once again show that the leisure market remains robust. Although collective like-for-likes are only up slightly, they do follow two strong months of growth and it is understandable that the pace of growth will vary from month to month. The strength of the casual dining sector outside the M25 shows that the recovery, which is often considered to be London-centric, is now spreading to other parts of the country and, as we move into the summer, I imagine the regional pubs market will see a change in fortunes.”
   

Company News:

Urban Pubs and Bars adds third site: Urban Pubs and Bars, the new company set up by Realpubs founders Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, had added a third site – The Lord Wargrave, a Young’s tenancy near the Edgeware Road in London. The company has signed a free-of-tie lease and will trade the site for a few weeks before carrying out a refurbishment. The new site joins The Old Ship Inn in Hackney, North London and The Whippet Inn in Kensal Rise, North London. Urban Pubs and Bars is looking to grow an estate of up to 20 sites across Central London and its “urban villages” over the next four years by acquiring quality leasehold or freehold public houses, capable of achieving weekly sales in excess of £20,000.
   
Enact paid just £135,000 for 35 West Cornwall Pasty Co sites: The controversial “pasty tax” and unfavourable weather conditions were among the factors that forced the West Cornwall Pasty Co into administration, new documents have revealed. Before its collapse, West Cornwall Pasty Co had 20 railway station-based outlets and 45 non-railway station outlets across the UK, and employed 366 staff. However, a warm summer followed by a wet and mild winter had hit sales, while the government’s requirement for VAT to be charged on pastry goods that are kept warm had led to its prices going up, reducing trade still further. The accountancy firm BDO was instructed to run an accelerated sale process earlier this year, and contacted 64 possible trade buyers and 19 potential financial buyers. The investment firm Enact emerged as the preferred bidder of the company’s management and its secured creditor, Sankaty, a subsidiary of the US private equity firm Bain Capital, which was owed approximately £5m. Administrators from Price Waterhouse Coopers were appointed on 11 April, and Enact paid £135,000 to buy 35 of the 65 West Cornwall Pasty Co outlets. Gresham, one of the UK’s oldest private equity firms, had acquired the West Cornwall Pasty Co for £40m in 2007, and subsequently backed a national expansion plan that failed to equal higher profits. Since losing control of the pasty retailer, Gresham has gone into wind-down after it confirmed it will not raise another fund and will instead focus on returning cash back to investors.
   
River Cottage Canteen mini-bond attracts over £500,000 of investment: Around £250,000 has been invested in the River Cottage Canteen mini-bond in a single day, Monday, to push the total invested to £535,000, which is 53% of the total of £1m being sought through a mini-bond paying 7% interest on the crowd-funding website Crowdcube. The number of investors stood at 164. The money will enable expansion of the brand to large-footfall sites. Launched in 1998 by food writer and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage operates an award-winning cookery school and three Canteens in the south west of England. River Cottage Canteen annual sales rose to £4m this year, over 3.5 times 2011 sales of £1.1m. Over this period the group has expanded from one store to three while also building up a head office team to oversee further growth. In this last year the average Canteen produced sales of over £1.3m, with the busiest restaurant achieving just over £1.6m.
   
Sky – Chinese private equity firm weighs PizzaExpress bid: One of China’s biggest private equity firms is weighing up plans to buy a slice of PizzaExpress as the British restaurant chain accelerates its expansion in the world’s most populous country, according to Sky News. The broadcaster claimed that Hony Capital, which manages roughly $7bn (£4.1bn) on behalf of clients, has approached a number of UK and US-based buyout funds about the possibility of tabling a joint offer for PizzaExpress. Sky News also reported that Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate which owns a stake in Club Mediterranee, the French holiday company, and Citic Capital Partners, another major Beijing-based fund, were also watching the PizzaExpress auction, although it was unclear whether either would table a formal offer.
   
Costa Coffee opens up price gaps with Starbucks and Caffe Nero: Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison has reported that the company’s Costa Coffee brand has opened up a price gap with rivals Starbucks and Costa Coffee, making Costa “even better value”. Harrison reported that a medium cappucino in Costa is now £2.45, against £2.60 at Starbucks and £2.70 at Caffe Nero. He said: “There are no plans to increase prices – we are driving our margins by increased throughput.” Meanwhile, Harrison reported that Costa’s exclusive franchise agreement in India has ended, with its Indian partner deciding its strength lies in airport location and the city of Delhi. He said: “We are finding that India is such a big county, with substantial differences between provinces. We feel we can go faster with different franchise partner in different regions.” Harrison also reported that Whitbread now has six managed and four franchised sites in Paris. “There are encouraging signs and we are looking to open a dozen new stores in France this financial year,” he said.
   
Harrison – pub restaurant outperformance driven by menu development and investment: Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison has reported that the relative out-performance of the company’s pub restaurants, up 4.4% in like-for-like terms, has been driven by soft weather comparitives, and a “lot of work on men development”. The company is also investing £70,000 a site on refurbishments within its Brewer’s Fayre estate, with 80 of the 140 refurbs completed, and a more substantial spend within Beefeater, with a dozen sites completed.
   
Abokado to open 22nd site today, signs for 23rd: Abokado, the healthy eating brand founded by Mark Lilley and backed by the private equity firm Kings Park Capital, is opening its 22nd site today, on Pentonville Road in Kings Cross, North London. Lilley told Propel: “We’ve also signed the lease on what will be the 23rd Abokado. This is situated in Fitzrovia [central London] and is our fourth store in this part of town. This demonstrates the level of density we can achieve with the Abokado concept.” Abokado, which added eight sites last year and plans ten openings this, has seen like-for-like sales growth of 17% and 19% in the past two financial years. It has £10m of turnover from 20 sites, and around 80% of turnover comes from the two-hour lunch period.
   
Jamie Rollo – M&B’s Orchid acquisition will be a late bloomer: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued that the M&B acquisition of 173 Orchid sites is attractive but will be a “late bloomer” because full potential will not be realised until 2017. He said: “The £266m Orchid acquisition boosts M&B’s EPS an estimated 11% and seems an attractive way of utilising PLC cash. Our price target moves up from 420p to 470p. However, we do not see the full potential until F17, the 8% post-tax ROIC looks low, a dividend resumption now seems unlikely until F16, and arguably management has enough on its plate. We now see a 15% EPS CAGR F14-17e, putting M&B on an F17e P/E of just 7.6x, cheap for a property-backed UK consumer play. If it can get like-for-like sales growth up to peer levels, see better margin conversion, and beat on its Orchid targets, we see F17 bull case EPS of 62p and a 610p share price, 50% potential upside. By contrast, our 350p bear case is 14% downside, making this an attractive risk-reward.”
   
Jamie Oliver goes mobile with Barbecoa: The live event company Gorilla Marketing & Events has completed the production of a totally self contained Barbecoa catering vehicle for the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. The Barbecoa vehicle made its first appearance at Grillstock in Bristol, 7-8 June and will be cooking again in Manchester, 28-29 June as well as at the Big Feastival on 29-31 August in Kingham, Oxfordshire. A spokesman for the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said: “We were looking for a mobile kitchen in which we could recreate the Barbecoa experience we are delivering through the Jamie Oliver Barbecoa restaurant in the City of London. Gorilla designed and built the perfect vehicle to do this and we are already planning to attend a summer of events. The attention to detail and craftsmanship that has gone into producing the Barbecoa van is of the highest standard and fully reflects the values of our own brand. It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Gorilla from concept to completion.”
    
Almost 100 KFC branches now serving halal-only meat: A total of 96 KFC branches are taking part in an open-ended trial to sell only halal products. They have been approved by the Halal Food Authority (HFA), a non-profit making organisation which monitors compliance, and have HFA on their doors. They do not sell a mixture of halal and non-halal products, to avoid cross-contamination. KFC insists animals are stunned prior to slaughter, a practice allowed by the HFA. A KFC spokesman said: “We have been running a halal trial since 2010 in areas where there has been demand from our customers. Feedback has been very positive.”
   
Burger King and Subway lined up for first motorway services areas in Northern Ireland: Burger King and Subway have been named as two of the retailers who will take up outlets at the first motorway service stations in Northern Ireland, currently being built between Junctions 4 and 5 on the M2, between Sandyknowes and Templepatrick. The twin service areas are being built by Petrogas Global, trading as Applegreen, and are expected to open in March 2015. An additional pair of service areas is planned for the M1 in Northern Ireland in 2015, bringing Applegreen’s total investment in Northern Ireland to £25m. Each of the new facilities will have 16 car fuelling points, an HGV fuelling area, a Burger King drive-through, an Applegreen convenience shop, a Bakewell cafe, a Subway restaurant and children’s play areas.
   
Cowshed restaurant’s financial controller jailed for stealing £170,000: The former financial controller at the Cowshed restaurant in Bristol has been jailed for 20 months for stealing at least £170,000 from the business. Neil Gover, 37, who has been working as a restaurant manager in Leeds, pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court to fraud by abuse of position. The prosecution alleged he helped himself to £224,000, though Gover said he took £170,000. The court was told that the owner of the Cowshed, Adam Denton, started trading from the Cowshed in 2009. The business prospered and turnover in the first year was £900,000. By 2013 that turnover climbed to £5m, the court was told, with the restaurant providing jobs for up to 50 people. But though turnover was rising, profit was not, and it transpired Gover was stealing from the business and covering his tracks by creative accounting. Mark Hollier, for the prosecution, told the court: “The defendant ... got on well with Mr Denton and was promoted to financial controller. He had complete access to company passwords and internet banking.” Gover diverted Cowshed funds to his own bank account, with transactions ranging from £1,000 to £9,000. When false VAT returns were discovered, which led to financial penalties, Denton said Gover should leave. Gover left in December 2012, but took a further £2,400 the next month, which was returned. Jonathan Stanniland, defending, said since the fraud, Gover’s marriage had broken down and a personal business venture had failed. A future hearing will establish Gover’s criminal gain, and sanction any confiscation order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
   
Crowdcube plans to double in size while on course to raise £30m in a year: The crowd-funding website Crowdcube, which launched Chilango’s “burrito bond” last week, is planning to double the workforce at its Exeter headquarters, with plans to also open a London office in the coming months. It currently employs 20 people at its base at the University of Exeter’s Innovation Centre. Luke Lang, who co-founded the business with Darren Westlake in 2011, said its total staff head count is likely to double in the next nine months. He said: “2014 so far has already broken all our targets, with 40 businesses securing around £9m. This puts us on course to raise close to £30m and break through the 100 funded pitches in a single year. To keep pace with demand, we will double our team to around 40 staff, most based in Exeter and a handful in our central London office that is opening shortly.” Crowdcube currently has two employees working in the capital based at “co-working spaces” including the Google Campus, with its new base set to open in the next few weeks. Lang said: “Crowdcube is expanding fast in both this country and internationally. We don’t just help British entrepreneurs; we now have partnerships in seven other countries, [helping] start-ups in Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil, Dubai and Poland to find funding beyond the banks.”
   
PizzaExpress and Nando’s lined up for Doncaster cinema site: A £3.4m refurbishment of Doncaster’s Vue cinema will transform the venue into an entertainment complex featuring 11 screens as well as two new restaurants. The upgrade will create four new auditoriums and will also see the introduction of PizzaExpress and Nando’s restaurant outlets. The foyer area will also be redesigned and will see the arrival of a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream parlour.
   
Healthy eating brand to launch in Manchester this week: A new healthy eating brand, Wahu, is to launch on the Avenue in Spinningfields, Manchester this week. Entrepreneur Jamie Barr came up with the idea after realising there was a gap in the market for a healthier option for food in the city centre. He said: “When I left uni in Manchester and started working in the city centre I was working long hours and would end up just grabbing food on the go – but that meant going to sandwich shops and takeaways and I soon realised I was piling on the pounds. I realised there was nowhere really to grab quick, healthy, fresh food on the go. That’s when I started to think about the concept and it’s been in the planning for the past 18 months.” Barr is planning to expand the brand to other areas of the city, and then the rest of the UK.
   
East Midlands bakery chain launches shop at cricket ground: Northampton bakery firm Oliver Adams, which has 52 sites across the Midlands, has unveiled a shop at Northants cricket ground. Managing director Mark Jarvis said: “We are proud to have this new association with Northants Cricket. It is our first venture into the sporting scene and makes perfect sense for us as a company to work with the Northants Cricket Club and build even stronger links with the community here in Northampton.” Northants Cricket’s chief executive, David Smith, said: “I am delighted with our new commercial partnership with Oliver Adams, which is a very well-known, strong, local, iconic brand. We believe this will help us fill a gap in our current food offering and we very much look forward to working with our new partners.” Oliver Adams was established in Northampton in 1856.
   
Culpeper opens in Spitalfields: An all-day pub-restaurant with a rooftop garden has opened under the name of Culpeper in Spitalfields, East London. The venue, on Commercial Street, run by Mad In London Ltd, founded by entrepreneur Nicolas Tréguer, was previously called the Princess Alice. The head chef at the pub is Sandy Jarvis, previously head chef at Terroirs, while rooftop food is being provided by Bash Redford and John Brown of the Italian pop-up food event organisers Forza Win three nights a week. The brunch menu, includes harissa eggs, mint yoghurt (£6.50), Spanish tortilla (£6) and house black pudding, fried egg and wild mushrooms (£8), as well as a full English for £12. The lunch and evening menu includes smoked cod’s roe, preserved lemon, radish, pickled cucumber and olives (£7); deep-fried pig’s head, dandelion leaves and pickled walnuts (£6); violet artichoke, tomato and goat’s cheese tarte fine (£12); beer-battered haddock, chips, crushed peas and tartar sauce (£13); pork chop, courgettes, sauté potatoes and chimichurri (£16) and beef and mushroom pie; blue cheese and watercress salad (£16). Every dish will contain at least one ingredient from the pub’s rooftop garden.
   
Matthew Clark adds premium cider brand: Wholesaler Matthew Clark has added Orpens Cider to its distribution portfolio. Traditionally a strong category for Matthew Clark, last year saw total cider volume up 11% and premium/craft cider up 45% (CGA MAT 19/4/14). The premium craft cider is currently available in Ireland but now, Matthew Clark and Catalyst Brands will be distributing to both the on and off-trade in the UK. Kathryn Chabowska, cider buyer for Matthew Clark, said: “The cider market is in a really exciting place right now. It is reflecting the craft beer category with an explosion of ‘trendy/easy-drinking’ craft style brands which have wide appeal to a younger consumer. Craft cider consumers are on the rise and are driven by authenticity – they are looking for ‘real’ flavours and taste profiles.”
   
Menu details revealed for Wahaca’s DF/Mexico: Menu details have been revealed for DF/Mexico, US/Mexico restaurant “residency” planned for the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, East London by Wahaca. The restaurant, which will be open for just 18 months, was inspired by a recent US/Mexico road trip by Wahaca’s founders, Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, who spotted that chefs crossed the borders both ways for inspiration and decided they wanted to bring that influence to the food at the new diner. The planned dishes include “Dirty Tortas” – pork pibil (£6.75), chile beef (£6.45) or ancho mushroom (£6.45) stuffed in a toasted brioche bun with smashed avocado and cucumber pickle. There will also be DIY Mexican boards with fillings including four-hour slow-cooked carne con chile (£11.45), and steak and cheese “alambres” (£11.95) as well as quinoa salad with roast sweet potato and feta (£8.45) and fresh Panko crumbed MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) cod tacos (£7.45). Drinks will include locally sourced beers including a DF House Pale Ale from Brixton Brewery (£4.50) and frozen margaritas. The name of the restaurant comes from “Distrito Federale”, a synonym for Mexico City, and it is being designed by the same people who design other Wahaca outlets, including its South Bank container restaurant. The “experimental diner” will seat 90, and is due to open on July 24.
   
Permission granted for Beefeater and Premier Inn in Uxbridge: Planning permission has been granted for an 80-bedroom Premier Inn and a Beefeater Grill restaurant at 501 Riverside Way in Uxbridge, Middlesex. The application to Hillingdon Council was made by the property developer Segro, which also owns the Slough Trading Estate. It includes permission for a 26,430 sq ft speculative industrial unit. Once completed, the hotel and restaurant are expected to create 60 jobs, with Segro and Premier Inn’s owner, Whitbread, committing to target around half at long-term unemployed people in the borough. Jonathan Langdon, acquisitions manager for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, said: “The new development represents a significant investment in the local area and will deliver another excellent London location as we look to strengthen our presence in the capital. We currently have over 55,000 rooms and 670 hotels open and trading in the UK and our new Uxbridge Premier Inn will bring us closer to achieving our target of reaching 75,000 rooms by 2018.” Construction will start on both the hotel and industrial premises in July, with practical completion expected in June 2015.
   
Bath Bun doubles in size: A couple who run two venues in Bath, Somerset have doubled the size of one of their businesses, the Bath Bun Tea Shoppe on Abbey Green, which has reopened after a six-week refurbishment. The business has been extended into a neighbouring property on North Parade, almost doubling the number of covers available to 76. The owners, Nina and Laurence Swan, said investing in the business was essential “as consumers are now more discerning about where they spend. Therefore our offering has to be unique and in demand, which the Bath Bun is. We didn’t consider it any risk at all in expanding our businesses because Bath is a living city with fantastic attractions such as the Roman Baths, the abbey and museums.” The couple, which also own the Hands Georgian Tearoom, would not disclose how much they had invested in the work but said it was self-financed. The expansion has created five new jobs.
   
Former public lavatory reopens as ice-cream parlour: A public lavatory in the Hampshire village of Brockenhurst that stood empty and derelict for seven years has reopened as an ice-cream parlour called Melt. Husband and wife Jagbir and Mandeep Sidhu spotted the derelict block of public toilets for sale a year ago, paid £180,000 for the block and spent countless weekends ripping out the interior, hammering down walls and piling heaps of bricks and tiling into skips. Now they are filling sundae glasses and coffee cups. The shop. The couple say the venue, which offers home-made Italian gelato and freshly ground coffee, has been themed around the idea of a rustic-style ice-cream parlour but with a modern twist and aims to appeal to people of all ages. Mandeep, from Southampton, said: “If you went back in time to what it was, you would never believe what it has become.”
   
Brewery rebrands with help of rural fund: A Welsh brewery has rebranded after receiving financial support from Creative Rural Communities (CRC). Tomos a Lilford Brewery won £2,000 from CRC’s Local Food Champions project, which aims to promote produce from the Vale of Glamorgan, to spend with an ad agency on brand development. The brewery’s new identity will be revealed to the public at the Old Swan Inn in Llantwit Major on Saturday, 21 June. Rob Lilford, co-founder of Tomos a Lilford Brewery, said: “We found the whole experience with CRC to be very rewarding and would say that, as a new business, even the very process of grant application is positive because it forces you into new levels of planning and consideration. It is a great exercise because you learn so much while doing the preparation work – I would definitely recommend it to others in our situation.” Tomos a Lilford Brewery’s logo now features a cormorant. Lilford explained: “As a coastal bird with no oil glands, it is the epitome of something which has survived and evolved against the odds – it isn’t waterproof but still dives and hunts for fish in order to survive. We wanted something to represent adventures in beer and the bird depicts all the obstacles we had to overcome.” The brewery, founded in 2013, currently makes four core beers, including Rosemary ale and Personal Best bitter.
   
IBS launches self-service kiosk option to allow foodservice operators to compete with supermarkets: Intelligent Business Systems has introduced a new self-service kiosk option to complement POSLink’s existing table and QSR touchscreen technology solution. Hospitality operators and retailers will now be able to offer their customers the same self-service purchasing options as major supermarket brands like M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Intelligent Business Systems’ managing director, Gareth Powell, said: “The POSLink kiosk solution is designed to suit any food service concept and offer a different type of customer experience. We have two purchasing routes. The first allows customers to select their goods in the store, take them to the self-service check out, scan or select them on the screen and then pay by card or PayPal and leave. This is similar to self-service payment solutions offered by supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S. The second involves customers ordering and pre-paying at the kiosk and then either collecting freshly prepared food themselves or having it delivered to the table by waiting staff.” IBS works with brands including Bath Ales, Brakspear, Cirrus Inns, EAT, GBK, Harry Ramsden’s, Mark Warner, Patisserie Valerie, Peach Pub Co, POD, Revolution, Spudulike and Vital Ingredient.
  
Tahola to offer operators webinars: Tahola, the provider of business analytics solutions to the hospitality sector, is introducing a programme of webinars to highlight how its Tahola Analytics solutions can help support and drive retailers’ business growth. The webinars are free and will each last approximately 30 minutes. Each webinar will focus on specific areas that are of key importance to a retailer. Simon Blackbourne, commercial director of Tahola, said: “Almost every retailer we meet loves what we do and can see the value that Tahola Analytics would bring to their business. We know many retailers still use Excel for their reporting and analysis, yet if we could show them our solutions, we could save them lots of time and money, hence why we have designed this programme.” The first webinar is at 10am today (18 June) with further webinars taking place every two weeks thereafter. For more details, contact Penny Blake on 01442 211 122 or visit www.tahola.co.uk/news/tahola-webinars to register.
   
Agent offers prime restaurant site: Agent Christie + Co is offering a restaurant and bar within a new development in Cannock, Staffordshire.The restaurant and bar forms part of the Orbital Plaza complex – an array of offices and restaurants surrounding the most iconic building in the area, the striking 13-storey landmark tower of Ramada-Birmingham North Hotel. Paul Reilly, of Christie + Co, said: “This is a great opportunity for either a branded operator or an experienced restaurant/bar operator to build a successful business in this busy complex which includes a quality hotel, Regus office centre and children’s day nursery on site. The restaurant would be ideal for all styles of cuisine, including Mediterranean, Mexican or Italian with a good cocktail bar operation.” An asking price of £25,000 is being sought for a brand new free-of-tie, 25-year lease, at a passing rent of £40,000 per annum.
   
NPD Group – casual dining operators draw 47 million more visits in five years ago: New research released by the insights firm NPD Group has found the casual dining sector has increased its annual traffic by 11.6% (as of March 2014) compared to five years ago. That means 47 million more visits to casual dining restaurants now than in 2009. This is a strong performance given that the overall market in Britain for eating out of home has lost 4.8% of its traffic in the same five-year period. Among the 30 or so brands that NPD Group says are contributing to the growth of casual dining are Cafe Uno, Nando’s, Wagamama, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Strada, Yo! Sushi, Zizzi, Carluccio’s and Giraffe. The success of casual dining comes in contrast to quick-service restaurants serving fast food (burgers, chicken, fish and chips, sandwiches, and including coffee shops and bakery outlets), which recorded only 4.2% traffic growth over the same five year period. Casual dining is taking business from full service restaurants, which have seen traffic decline by 11.4% since March 2009. Despite the average bill per visit of £11.90 for a dinner, casual dining’s growth has outpaced the cheaper fast food channel, where the average bill per visit is much lower, at £5.06. Casual dining is only slightly more affordable than the full service channel, where bills per visit work out at £15.17. NPD said consumers like the combination of the ambiance and quality of food of a full service restaurant and the speed and delivery of a fast-food/quick service restaurant. Britons also see casual dining as a good family option when eating out. At dinner time, 36% of all the meal occasions in casual dining restaurants are due to family visits, whereas they only account for 25% of the meal occasions in restaurants generally. Cyril Lavenant, drector of Foodservice UK, said: “People are telling us that casual dining is the best of both worlds – speed combined with a good ambiance. The new casual dining restaurants are proving popular with people who want good food in a pleasant environment but who are also keeping an eye on what they spend. In difficult economic times, consumers need to save money. That helps to explain why full service restaurants have suffered. But casual dining is successful because it offers a good experience when eating out and a good option for when people want a ‘treat’ for themselves or their kids. The food is also priced at the level that makes it easy for younger people to dine out. The success of casual dining in Britain is the beginning of a new way of eating out – this is definitely not a blip. We believe that casual dining restaurants will continue to take business from full service restaurants.”

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