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Thu 14th Dec 2017 - Sector like-for-likes up 2.2% in November, pubs and bars opening sites at faster rate than casual dining groups
Sector like-for-likes up 2.2% in November, pub and bar groups opening sites at faster rate than casual dining companies: Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants saw like-for-like sales increase 2.2% in November compared with last year, the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. Pub groups, which are now opening new sites at a faster rate than casual dining companies, produced the best figures with collective like-for-likes ahead 2.8%, with drink-led businesses doing best. Meanwhile, restaurant chains were also positive with like-for-like growth of 1.2%. Regional trading was also stronger than in the capital, with like-for-like sales outside the M25 up 2.7% for the month, compared with 0.9% inside the M25. “November’s numbers will be welcome news for a sector that has been hit hard this year with rising cost pressures across property, people and food all squeezing operational margins,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. Total sales growth in November among the 38 companies in the tracker cohort was 5.9% compared with last year reflecting the continuing, if much more subdued, effect of new openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year, particularly among restaurant brands. Martin added: “For the first time in years, managed pub and bar groups are opening new sites at a faster rate than casual dining companies.” Underlying like-for-like growth for the sector, for the 12 months to the end of November, remained unchanged, running at 1.2%, with total sales growth over the 12 months steady at 4.1%. Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: ”It seems the reduced rate of new restaurant openings is helping to sustain like-for-like comparisons. The figures are somewhat stronger than some commentators feared, which will hopefully translate into some pleasing results over the festive period and reasons to be cheerful as we enter the busiest trading season. The figures are a particular relief for restaurant operators, who over the past two years have seen their underlying like-for-like growth rate cut by more than half due to competition from startup concepts and new brands, who have increased choice for consumers in UK market towns and major cities.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “The upbeat November results will have provided some respite for hard-pressed operators in the run up to Christmas. As the economic squeeze on living costs sees the emergence of a more cost-conscious consumer, it will be interesting to see which operators break rank to hike menu prices. With the all-important festive trading season in full swing, the sector will be looking to claw back lost margin to shore up finances ahead of the tougher first quarter of the new year.”

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