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Fri 16th Mar 2018 - Sector like-for-likes up 0.2% in February, pubs now rolling out faster than casual dining chains
Sector like-for-likes up 0.2% in February, pubs now rolling out faster than casual dining chains: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant chains saw collective like-for-like sales increase 0.2% in February compared with last year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. The data also revealed casual dining chains are now rolling out at a rate below that of pub companies. Managed pub groups saw like-for-like sales up 1.3% while restaurants were down 1.5%, although the frequency of eating out has remained stable. London fared better than the rest of the country, with like-for-likes up 0.8% compared with flat trading outside the M25. “Most of the effects of the major snow disruption will show up in the March data but, even so, to come out effectively even for February as a whole shows the resilience of both the sector and consumers,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “What’s not clear is how the bad publicity around certain high-profile restaurant brands closing sites has affected the market or individual choices.” Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Contrary to media reports the eating and drinking out market remains stable, as these figures show. The restaurant sector has had terrible press over the past few weeks but, in reality, consumers are still eating out. We also continue to see pub operators outperforming restaurants.” CGA’s BrandTrack consumer research also shows the frequency of eating out is stable. Martin said: “Where people choose to go in a competitive market where choice has never been greater is a different matter. However, our consumer research shows people are more willing than ever to try somewhere new.” CGA’s latest Business Leaders survey showed senior executives expect more business failures this year and a scaling back of expansion plans. “This is already reflected in the Coffer Peach numbers,” said Martin. “New sites are still being opened but casual dining chains in the cohort are now rolling out at a rate below that of the pub companies. Over the past 12 months, total sales growth, reflecting new openings as well as closures, was 3.8% for restaurant groups compared with 4.3% for managed pub and bar chains. Although the February numbers will bring some comfort to operators they are still below inflation, and with the extra business costs around property, people and food prices, it remains a challenging trading environment.” Underlying like-for-like growth for the companies in the tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, was running at 1.1% for the 12 months to the end of February, including 0.4% for casual dining chains and 1.4% for pub and bar groups.


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