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Thu 15th Sep 2016 - Coffer Peach Tracker – overall like-for-likes up 0.6% on August 2015, pubs outperform restaurants
Coffer Peach Tracker – overall like-for-likes up 0.6% on August 2015, pubs outperform restaurants: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 0.6% in August against the same month last year, following on from a 0.3% sales lift in July. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed pub groups had the best of the month’s trading, with like-for-likes up 1.2% against a 0.4% decline among casual dining chains, with drink-led businesses doing best of all. “As ever, this can be put down to the good weather,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “The reassuring thing is that, overall, business was marginally up on last year at a time when consumer confidence was expected to be fragile in the wake of the referendum. However, performance was not uniform across the country, with London operators seeing a healthy 2.9% like-for-like sales uplift against August 2015, continuing a trend seen in July. In contrast, those outside the M25 saw a slight 0.1% fall in like-for-like sales against last year. Tourism will have helped the capital and the market will remain cautious as we move into the pre-Christmas period.” Total sales for the month among the 34 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 4.2% on August 2015, reflecting new site openings during the past 12 months. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at just 0.8% up for the 12 months to the end of August, the same as at the end of July, with restaurant chains up 0.9% and pub groups ahead 0.8%. Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “Within these figures there are certainly some interesting trends. Over the past three months, the rate of growth between the pub sector and the restaurant sector has been broadly similar, unlike the last four years when restaurant growth has been significantly faster. This is further evidence of the slowdown in growth in the restaurant sector as the number of new openings reduces and the sector moves into a period of more modest growth. London is benefiting from staycations and weaker sterling. Overall, the results are considerably more positive than some might have expected. Business and consumer confidence in the autumn season, for the time being, looks as though it is likely to remain positive in the run up to the key Christmas period.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, added: “Three consecutive months of like-for-like growth across the eating and drinking out sector provides some welcome respite for operators in an environment where cost headwinds are increasingly prevalent. All operators need to work harder to remain relevant in the face of new competition. Refurbishments, redesigns and rebrandings are increasingly necessary for some established multi-brand operators. However, operators of all sizes need to remain flexible enough to remodel their offering in the face of changing customer needs. Investors should also plan to provide adequate cash headroom for existing site development capex that could impact return on investment expectations and overall sector valuations.” 

CAMRA beer guide editor praises real ale success story but warns of threat posed by global brewers: Real ale is the success story of British beer, according to the 2017 Good Beer Guide published by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). However, it added that the industry must remain wary of the threat posed by global brewers “muscling in on the craft sector”. The new guide, published today (15 September), states London is “once again one of the world’s great brewing cities”, listing 69 breweries, with five more due to open in the near future. Across the UK, the guide lists more than 200 breweries opening in the past year, with 1,540 operating in total. The guide’s editor Roger Protz said: “The real ale revolution goes roaring on. As well as new breweries opening, others are expanding their sites or moving to bigger premises to cope with demand for their beers. In an overall declining beer market, real ale’s share is impressive. It’s (also) expected to grow dramatically over the next few years. As the ale market includes such national and expensively promoted keg brands as Guinness, John Smith’s and Tetley’s, this is a remarkable achievement by the cask ale sector that has to rely on word of mouth and CAMRA beer festivals to spread the message.” However, Protz added a word of warning to companies involved in the rise of real ale – the threat posed by global brewers muscling into the craft beer sector. Pointing to the protracted £79bn merger between the world’s two biggest brewers, AB InBev and SABMiller, both of which had already acquired craft beer companies, he said: “The way in which global brewers are muscling in on the craft sector in Britain and other countries is a cause for concern and a potential threat to the independent sector. In its 44-year history, the guide has never been complacent and believes beer drinkers’ choice and freedom demand constant vigilance.” The 44th edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide lists the best 4,500 pubs in the country chosen by its 180,000-plus membership.

New safe drinking limits are ‘road to prohibition’, says CAMRA beer guide editor: New safe drinking limits recommended by chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies are the “road to prohibition”, according to Roger Protz, editor of The 2017 Good Beer Guide, published by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). He said her recommendation of 14 units a week for men and women, a figure supported by the government, were based on “bad science” and had been heavily influenced by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, which was funded by a foundation that grew out of the temperance movement. He said: “The government supports 14 units a week and says (the recommendation) is based on good science when the opposite is the case. It appears Professor Davies was heavily influenced by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, which is funded by the Alliance House Foundation, whose former name was the UK Temperance Alliance. The alliance grew out of the temperance movement in the US that campaigned for prohibition in the 20th century. Professor Davies also took evidence from the Alcohol Health Alliance, which claims alcohol consumption has increased in the UK in recent years. This claim contradicts official figures compiled by HM Revenue & Customs, which show sales in the UK have fallen by close to 20% over the past decade.” Protz also criticised Davies for saying she thought of “cancer” when offered a glass of wine, pointing out that The American Chemical Society was conducting research into the natural chemicals present in the hop plant that could be a key ingredient in the fight against cancer. He added: “The restrictions urged by the medical officers are taking us on the road to prohibition. Men used to be told to drink no more than 21 units a week – now it’s 14 units. What will the advice be in a few years’ time – no units at all? All the real scientific evidence shows moderate beer drinking can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We should listen to the experts – not the killjoys of the temperance movement.”

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