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Fri 13th Apr 2018 - Sector enjoys strong Easter but sees March like-for-likes fall 3.1%
Sector enjoys strong Easter but sees March like-for-likes fall 3.1%: Strong trading over the Easter holiday weekend helped lift the gloom for Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups after a snow-hit March. The latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed collective like-for-like sales for the four days of Easter were up 5.9% compared with Easter weekend last year. In contrast, like-for-likes across the sector fell 3.1% in March against the same month last year. Snow hit trading across the pub and casual dining market, with London like-for-likes down 4.3% and outside the M25 down 2.7%. Restaurant chains overall were down 5.0% and, although managed pubs fared slightly better, they were still hit with a 2.0% decline in like-for-likes. “It was a month to forget, with the only cheer coming for managed pubs outside London that benefited by people staying at home and off work when the snow fell,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Overall, March was bad news so the uplift in sales over Easter weekend brought almost instant relief. Again, all parts of the market benefited.” Restaurant chains saw the biggest Easter uplift, with like-for-likes up 8.0% compared with the same four-day period last year. Pub group collective like-for-likes were ahead 4.6%. “Although snow stops people travelling, the wet and dreary weather over Easter will have helped to tempt people, and in particular families off for the break, to go out to eat – so it should be no surprise that restaurants were the biggest beneficiaries,” said Martin. “But it’s also worth remembering Easter 2017 was not good for the market, with sales down on 2016 due to it falling late in April and being disjointed from school holidays in parts of the country. This year it wasn’t.” Trevor Watson, executive director of valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “It is best not to draw too many conclusions from the March statistics as the adverse weather nationwide makes any meaningful comparison difficult. The Easter performance is, however, a lot stronger than many commentators might have predicted. We continue to see good demand for the right sites and the market continues to be active against a background of squeezed margins.” The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 39 operating groups.

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