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Thu 16th Jun 2016 - Overall pub and restaurant market like-for-likes down 1.4% on May 2015
Overall pub and restaurant market like-for-likes down 1.4% on May 2015; London sales hold up better than rest of Britain: Britain’s pub and restaurant groups saw like-for-like sales slip in May, with collective like-for-like trading down 1.4% on the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. “The later school half-term break, which this year fell in June against May last year, appears to have been a major factor – demonstrating how important the family market still is to the sector,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS. “Overall, casual dining chains suffered most, with collective like-for-likes down a hefty 5.6% on last May, while pub groups actually saw a 1.0% increase in same-store sales for the month, driven mainly by drink-led outlets which were up 4.5%,” added Martin. “It was definitely a tale of two markets last month.” London also had a better month than the rest of the country, with like-for-likes up 0.9%, and London pubs and bars up 3.8%, against a 2.2% drop in same-store sales outside the M25. “The distortion caused by the school holiday shift will work its way out next month, and operators will be encouraged by early indications of bumper sales in the first week of June, which also enjoyed good weather,” said Martin. “However, there will be caution too, as May’s performance follows a drop in sales in April and a generally flat start to the year overall – and the underlying annual trend shows sector like-for-likes running at just 0.9% up for the 12 months to the end of May,” he added. Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 2.2% on 2015, reflecting the fact that groups are still opening new sites, if at a slower rate than previously. Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Making long-term predictions on the back of short-term statistics is always a dangerous game. However, a 1.4% like-for-like decline in sales represents the biggest one-month decrease in well over two years and is clearly a worrying sign for operators and investors in the sector. In an ever more crowded market place, our conversations with operators are now shifting in focus from estate growth and roll-out to driving gross margins and controlling cost inflation with major concerns around rent reviews, the National Living Wage and next year’s rating revaluation.” Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The pub and restaurant sector has been dealt an undeniable blow by declining consumer confidence over the course of this year. For the most part, this has stemmed from general economic fears that have been worsened by the impending EU Referendum next week. With each of the home nations represented in Euro 2016, except Scotland, we hope to see an upturn in next month’s data but, overall, restaurant operators are undeniably struggling, while pub companies are experiencing strong like-for-like growth.”

Star Pubs & Bars launches new operator agreement: Star Pubs & Bars is introducing a new “low-risk, low-cost” operator arrangement called “Just Add Talent”. The company said it is designed to attract a new breed of operator looking to strike out on their own while receiving a high level of direction and support. As part of the agreement, operators will run the business and fund their own as well as staff costs. Star will pay all other expenses, including electricity, heating, rates, food and beer, and maintenance costs, allowing operators to concentrate on front-of-house and business development. Revenue and profit will be shared between both parties, with no limit on what operators can earn. The agreement complements Star’s existing suite of leases and suits medium-sized pubs in strong high street or busy suburban locations. The pubs will have received substantial investment and have a strong pizza and beer consumer offer in place. Revamped to attract trade throughout the day, the pubs will serve quality coffee and premium branded drinks such as Heineken Served Extra Cold. They will be fitted with the latest Heineken technology, including SmartDispense. Managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Development of new talent is critical for the future of the pub industry. The aim is to attract a new breed of operators who have the retail experience, drive and ambition to run an exceptional pub business but are looking for direction and support to help make it happen. The agreement reduces operator risk which, together with Star funding, training and business development support and Heineken products, provides a real opportunity to create long-term viable businesses for this next generation of licensees.”

Roseberry Leisure takes on second leased site with Star Pubs & Bars, plans to invest in further venues: North east multi-site operator Roseberry Leisure has taken on its second leased pub – The Fellsider in Whickham, Gateshead. It is the company’s second site with Star Pubs & Bars and Roseberry said it planned to invest in more leased pubs and bars in the future. The Fellsider has closed for a £275,000 refurbishment that will see it transformed into a family-friendly neighbourhood pub restaurant offering traditional home-cooked food and authentic Italian coffee. The 1970s-style pub will be given a complete makeover and will reopen in the third week of July, creating 30 jobs as a result of its new food focus. It will have an additional 120 covers and, as well as a new modern country-style decor incorporating wooden floors and panelling, there will be an open kitchen and French doors opening out on to an al fresco dining area. As part of the refurbishment, Heineken is installing its SmartDispense draught cooling system. Heineken Served Extra Cold, Amstel and Bier Moretti will be available on tap for the first time and a new wine list available as well as a range of premium spirits and cask ales. Roseberry Leisure managing director Michael Roseberry said: “We’ve been a Heineken free trade customer for 48 years and now have two Star pubs, both of which they’ve invested in. The sites are well located and Star is very professional – great to work with, particularly with a capex project. Historically we have had free trade pubs but, as a result of our experience, plan to invest in more leased pub/bar restaurants going forward.” Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens added: “We’re delighted Michael has decided to take on a second pub with Star and, through investment and support, look forward to helping his experienced team at Roseberry Leisure create a top-quality village pub.”

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