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Mon 19th Nov 2018 - Sector like-for-likes up 0.2% in October, London significantly outperforms regions
Sector like-for-likes up 0.2% in October, London significantly outperforms regions: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow just 0.2% in October, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Regionally, London saw like-for-likes grow 2.5% against a 0.5% like-for-like sales drop outside the capital. Pub and bar groups were the top performers, nationally and in London. “People are still going out to eat and drink but there is little or no growth in the market – and stronger London trading is making up for poorer sales outside the M25,” said Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. Across the country, managed pubs and bars were collectively ahead 0.6% on a like-for-like basis, and up 3.6% in London against last October. However, sales declined 0.4% outside the capital. Restaurant chains also did relatively better in London, with like-for-likes up 0.9%, compared with a 0.7% fall in the rest of the country. However, the national figure showed a 0.3% decline, reflecting continuing pressure on the casual dining sector. Tate added: “Restaurants saw volume sales, measured by covers, down 1.4% for the month, which is worrying, although spend has remained essentially static. But the really big problem for the sector, and restaurant brands in particular, is continuing fierce competition added to the burden of increasing business costs that are squeezing both margins and profits.” Total sales, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year across the 49 companies in the tracker, were up 2.6% on October 2017. Underlying like-for-like growth for the tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, was running at 0.7% for the 12 months to the end of October. The figure is virtually the same as at the end of the past three months, showing the eating and drinking out market remains flat at best. “These figures show the challenges the industry faces,” said Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons. “But just because some weaker brands have closed branches outside London it’s not leading to a reduction in capacity – these units are reopening with better operators and concepts paying sustainable rents. Competition is stronger than ever. The pub market remains more resilient because it doesn’t have the same overcapacity issue. The ongoing relative strength of London is borne out by our own views of the London restaurant property market, which remains active.”

Carlsberg – low or no-alcohol beer becoming more socially acceptable: Consumers across the UK believe low or no-alcohol beer is becoming more socially acceptable, according to a new study by Carlsberg UK. The brewer commissioned a study carried out by OnePoll, which delved into the drinking habits of 2,000 UK adults, with a particular focus on low or no-alcohol beers. The study found 59% of respondents had tried a low or no-alcohol drink and more than half of those asked (52%) agreed drinking a low or no-alcohol beer had become more socially acceptable in the past year or two. A total of 28% of respondents would consider drinking an alcohol-free beer as an alternative to alcohol and 26% would consider it over an alternative soft drink. The study also found there are differences in attitudes towards alcohol between men and women. A total of 35% of women have become more conscious about their alcohol intake over the past one to two years versus 30% of men. Men were more likely to consume low or no-alcohol alternatives at home and females were more likely to try it on a night out. Women were also more likely than men to enjoy the taste of low or no alcohol. Millennials, a consumer group that has often been identified as one consuming less alcohol than previous generations, were the group most likely to enjoy the taste (70%) and the most likely to try an alcohol-free beer (24%). Liam Newton, vice-president marketing at Carlsberg UK said: “The UK has long been a nation known for its love of beer but we have seen a step-change in people’s attitudes towards moderation when it comes to drinking. Through our consumer research, we’ve been aware of this trend for some time, and as a result we are increasing the number of low or no-alcohol alternatives in our range.”

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