Christmas sales figures flat: According to analysis of more than 1,500 sector sites using S4labour software, overall like-for-like sales were broadly static in December 2019, compared with the same month in 2018, falling by 0.1%. There was positive like-for-like growth of 1.1% for sales of food in December 2019. However drinkers were more restrained than last year, resulting in a slip of 1.0% in drink sales. Once again London outperformed the rest of the country, with an overall like-for-like growth of 1.2% compared to a fall of 0.3% outside London. One of the standout figures from December was a 4.2% growth in like-for-like sales for food orientated businesses inside the capital. Food-orientated business outside London saw more subdued growth, increasing just 0.3%. Figures that take the key festive dates of the 24th, 25th, 26th and the 31st in isolation show a much more vibrant picture of the sector, with an overall 3.9% like-for-like increase on the same days trading in 2018. While drink sales may have been sluggish for the month on the whole, drinks sales spiked 4.6% higher than the same dates in 2018. Surprisingly, it was wet-led sites outside of London that out performed those in the capital. Wet led sites saw like-for-like sales up 6.8% over the key festive dates compared to 4.5% in London. A spokesman said: “The success of the few days around Christmas suggests that people were more inclined to stay at home for much of the month, but were more wiling to splash out on the biggest hospitality days of the year. It is possible that business may have missed opportunities to draw being in throughout the month of December, focusing too heavily on the last week. While the figures for retail are still being crunched, most analysts expect high street spending during December to fall again this year. The rise in online shopping may well have negatively impacted footfall for the hospitality sector also.”
Thai Leisure Group closes Manchester Chaophraya site after 12 years: Thai Leisure Group has closed its Chaophraya site in Manchester city centre branch after more than a decade. The site opened 12 years ago on Chapel Walks, just off King Street and Cross Street. Ian Leigh, managing director of Thai Leisure Group, said: “After 12 years in the city we have unfortunately made the difficult decision to close Chaophraya Manchester. We would like to thank all of our guests in the city and our suppliers over this time for their continued support.” Chaophraya first launched in Leeds in 2004, and still has seven sites operating across the UK including Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Thai Leisure Group also owns Thaikhun, which is continuing to trade as normal in Spinningfields, and Yee Rah in Liverpool. It also owns Trafford Centre buffet restaurant ChaoBaby, which will be rebranded as Thaikhun Buffet in spring.
Loui Blake becomes brand partner at Eat by Chloe: Loui Blake, founder of the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant Erpingham House, and central London restaurant brand Kalifornia Kitchen, has joined four-strong plant-based restaurant brand Eat by Chloe as “brand partner”. He said: “With four locations in London currently, it’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and I know will help further spread the benefits of plat-based foods.” Last year, Blake won Future Marketing Leader of the Year at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator awards, topping the 30 under 30 list. On his website, he states: “I believe through veganism we can create a healthier and more conscious planet, and that business can play a pivotal role in helping more people discover and maintain a vegan lifestyle. I’m passionate about reimagining business as a purposeful entity to solve problems, helping people to recognise veganism as a viable solution for many of the world’s biggest problems and understand the roles, responsibilities and opportunities we have as consumers, entrepreneurs and people.”
Club Mexicana to open in Kingly Court: Club Mexicana, which offers Mexican-Californian inspired street food, is to open its first permanent site in March – Club Mexicana Taqueria. Founded five years ago on from its street food beginnings, via a successful Hackney residency and the launch of The Spread Eagle, London’s first 100% vegan pub, Meriel Armitage is to open in Carnaby’s Kingly Court in March. She said: “We’re so excited to open our very first restaurant in the heart of Soho. We’re looking forward to doing what Club Mexicana does best – great vibes, lots of tacos and banging cocktails. We’ll be dishing up more tacos than ever before, as well as our biggest street food hits and favourite dishes. It’s going to be a lot of fun!” Shelley Webb, head of group residential and Kingly Court, added: “We are delighted to welcome Club Mexicana to Carnaby’s food hub, Kingly Court. The Mexican-Californian inspired vegan street food restaurant will enhance Carnaby’s ever-increasing, global dining offering,” says Shelley Webb, head of group residential and Kingly Court.