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Mon 15th Apr 2019 - Sector like-for-likes up 3.8% in March against snow-hit 2018
Sector like-for-likes up 3.8% in March against snow-hit 2018: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 3.8% in March compared with the previous year, when trading was hit badly by the effects of the "Beast from the East", the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. London, which was hit worse than the rest of the country last March, saw like-for-likes up 5.5% this year, with the rest of the country enjoying a 3.3% increase. Managed pubs were collectively up 4.0%, with restaurant groups, which have suffered most in recent months, up 3.6%. Pubs also saw a recovery in both food and drink sales over the month, although drinks trade grew 5.7% against a smaller 2.7% increase in food, suggesting the underlying trend for drink sales to outstrip food sales is continuing. “March last year was a month to forget when snow brought much of the country to a standstill," said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. "Both pubs and restaurants felt the effects with like-for-likes across the board down 3.1%, so these latest figures will be a relief as the sector regains lost ground. The big test, of course, will come with the results for April and the Easter holidays. Last Easter was a bumper time for the sector with sales ahead 5.9% on the holiday weekend the year before, boosted by the fact many people didn’t go out in March. The pressure to match that this time is now on." Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, added: “These results show revenue levels across the sector returned to March 2017 levels last month. The market remains challenging for many casual dining operators who continue to face unprecedented levels of competition. The wide variety of choice including the popularity of food halls, markets and pop-up street food offers around the country continues to draw custom away from conventional restaurant and pub outlets and are increasingly the social meeting place of choice for younger consumers.” Total sales across the 52 companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 6.1% compared with last March. Underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, reached its highest level since July 2017, running at 1.5% for the 12 months to the end of March, a marked improvement on the 0.9% at the end of February.


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