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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 29th Apr 2024 - Update: Foodservice inflation, pub spending, Butlin's £60m insurance fight
Foodservice inflation dips below 10% for first time in two years: Inflation as measured by the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index (FPI) fell below 10% in March for the first time in two years. This follows the largest month-on-month decline ever recorded by the index of 1.4%. The softening of inflation has also been seen in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food, which indicated only a marginal increase of 0.1% in March. However, the rate in the Foodservice Price Index remains more than double the level of retail, which stands at 4.0% year-on-year. While only one FPI category decreased in price year-on-year in March, all of them recorded a reduction in prices month-on-month – a sign of a fundamental shift in markets. Inflationary pressures have also been relieved by an easing in UK wage costs, where real-terms growth fell to 2.9% in February. While an increase in the national living wage in April will likely cause a temporary rise in growth, the trend in reduced wage rises is expected to help ease inflation in the months ahead, with the Office for Budget Responsibility anticipating the CPI to be at or near the 2% target by the fourth quarter of 2024. While the latest figures indicate a positive direction for foodservice, the sector continues to navigate potential challenges including the implementation of border checks in the UK, which may contribute to additional supply costs. James Ashurst, client director at CGA by NIQ, said: “After two years of relentlessly high inflation, a fall into single digits in March brings some welcome respite. Along with signs of increased consumer demand, it makes us cautiously optimistic for businesses as we move further into 2024. However, high prices in food and elsewhere have caused significant damage, and it may be some time before we achieve sustained low inflation and real-terms sales growth.” Shaun Allen, Prestige Purchasing chief executive, added: “As price inflation falls, it presents a pivotal opportunity for operators to review and refine their procurement processes, ensuring they capitalise on the changing market conditions to secure the best possible terms and maintain a competitive edge.”

Premium Club members to receive next New Openings Database on Friday, features 130 openings: The next Propel New Openings Database will be sent to Premium Club members on Friday (3 May). The database will show the details of 130 site openings, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis and Premium Club members will also receive a 6,700-word report on the 130 new additions to the database. The database includes new openings in the casual dining sector such as The Real Greek launching in Sheffield for its second of 2024, healthy rotisserie chicken concept Cocotteincreasing its presence in the capital with an opening in Richmond and Giggling Squid adding three new sites to its opening pipeline – in Liverpool, Portsmouth and York. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who’s Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators will also be able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector.A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email today to sign up.

Deloitte – Britons spending less in pubs and bars than at any time since lockdown ended: Britons are choosing to spend less money in pubs and bars than at any time since lockdown ended, according to research by Deloitte, as cost-of-living pressures weigh on people’s leisure habits. The survey, which asked nearly 3,200 UK consumers if they had spent more, less or the same on leisure in the last three months, showed sentiment in “eating out” and “drinking in pubs and bars” had declined by around six percentage points from the previous quarter, reports The Financial Times. While an appetite for dining out dipped to levels seen at the end of 2022, pubs and bars recorded the lowest interest since reopening after the covid pandemic. The findings come as consumers are broadly feeling more optimistic about spending overall. Deloitte research published earlier this month found confidence reached a two-year high in the first quarter of 2024, supported by falling inflation and real pay growth. Sir Tim Martin, founder of JD Wetherspoon, said competition from supermarkets was “a big challenge for pubs”, with the disparity in prices between the two widening in recent decades. This was “causing people to drink more at home”, he said. David McDowall, chief executive of Stonegate Group, said sales had come back to pre-pandemic levels, with a boost at Christmas when the company traded ahead of the expectation. But January had been worse than expected. Pub operators said they were grappling with the costs of food and drink, energy and most recently wages, an issue triggered by an increase in the national living and minimum wage. Survey respondents were canvassed in mid-March across 11 different leisure categories. Sentiment for other activities, such as “attending live sports events”, “holidays, hotel stays and leisure travel” and “culture and entertainment” also dropped from the previous quarter but at a more modest rate. Betting and gaming was the only leisure category to register an increase in interest.
Butlin’s sues insurers over £60m flood bill: Butlin’s is suing insurers led by Aviva over a £60m bill from flooding at its largest holiday resort in a case that turns on the definition of a “storm”. The company filed the claim at the High Court in London in a dispute with its insurers over the cover they are providing for damage to its site in Minehead on the Somerset coast. The resort closed in September 2023 because of heavy rain, was shut for repairs in January and resumed full operations this month. Butlin’s, which is owned by the Harris family, said that the flooding, repairs and lost revenue had cost the business £60m, but its insurers had refused to cover that sum. Jon Hendry Pickup, the chief executive of Butlin’s, told the Financial Times that he was “disappointed” at how the insurance claim had been dealt with. The insurers told the holiday company that, since the damage to the resort came under the category of a “storm”, a maximum of £25m in damages would be covered. Butlin’s has received this sum already. However, it is claiming a higher amount, saying that the Met Office had not declared a “named storm” when the flooding occurred and that the rainfall had not been accompanied by high wind. Butlin’s said that as “a matter of law, a ‘storm’ occurs only where there is high wind”. Aviva, the lead insurer that is responsible for 50% of the risk, is yet to file its defence. It declined to comment. The Times understands that, based on previous rulings, the insurer does not agree that the legal definition of a storm needs high winds. Butlin’s said: “Our Minehead resort was heavily impacted by the severe flooding that affected many businesses and homes in the south west in September 2023. As a result of the extensive damage to the Minehead site, our team have worked very hard to ensure the resort is back open and running, but as this is now a legal matter, we’re unable to comment further.” Founded in 1936 at Skegness by Billy Butlin, the holiday resort group spans three sites. In September 2022 it was sold by Blackstone to the Harris family for £300m.

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