Sector like-for-likes up 1.6% in August as wet-led pubs and London venues benefit: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 1.6% in August compared with last year, with wet-led pubs and venues in London being the best performers, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Managed pub groups recorded like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% for the month, with wet-led sites ahead 4.1%. Pub groups saw drink sales up 3.8% during the month, with food sales marginally down 0.1%. Restaurant groups had a more subdued month following a good July, with collective like-for-like trading down, but only by 0.2%. Regionally, London performed better than the rest of Britain, with like-for-like trading up 2.9% against 1.2% for outside the M25. Restaurant groups in the capital were also in positive territory, up 0.5%, while those outside the capital saw a 0.5% fall. “The weather, as is often the case, played a big part in shaping sales, with the hot weather in the run-up to and during the bank holiday weekend boosting pub trading and suppressing restaurant sales,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “The good news is that even with the uneven effect of the weather the underlying performance was 1.6% up on last August following growth of 1.2% in July. Drinking pubs in London were the ones that really benefited from the mini-heatwave, with a 5.0% like-for-like boost.” Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “These are solid numbers generally, with pub sales again outperforming restaurants partly helped by the weather. Consumer habits are changing fast especially in the restaurant sector, evidenced by The Restaurant Group announcing it is to close up to half of its mainstream restaurants over time. Until recently these were seen as the best portfolio of sites in the market and demonstrates the difficulties being experienced by many restaurant chains. Only the exceptional are performing well. The pub sector by contrast is resilient. Pubs are generally unbranded and don’t suffer from the often limited lifespan a brand may face.” Total sales across all companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 4.3% compared with last August. Underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, was running at 1.7% for the 12 months to the end of August.