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Mon 13th Sep 2021 - Rolling 12-month sales down 15% but managed operators report 5% growth in August against 2019 levels
Rolling 12-month sales down 15% but managed pubs, bars and restaurants report 5% growth in August against 2019 levels: Mounting consumer confidence and staycations helped Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups to lift sales above pre-covid-19 levels in August, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker has revealed. The Tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, showed total sales were 5% ahead of August 2019. It is the first month of year-on-year growth since hospitality reopened from mid-April. Total sales were also up 35% on August 2020, when the majority of venues were open after Britain’s first lockdown and the government’s Eat Out To Help Out initiative was running. For the fourth month in a row, managed restaurant groups outperformed the market, with total sales up by 7% on August 2019. Pubs recorded 3% growth, with pub restaurants (up 6%) faring better than drink-led sites (up 1%). Bars enjoyed a surge in sales following the easing of restrictions on the late-night sector, finishing August 21% up on 2019. Businesses benefited from a first full month of restriction-free trading in August, as well as the easing of safety concerns among diners and drinkers. Widespread “staycations” during the school holidays contributed to a strong August for regions beyond London, with sales outside the M25 up by 9%. London continued to be impacted by the absence of many office workers and tourists, and sales within the M25 were down by 7% on August 2019. On a longer 12-month measure, covid continues to take a toll on groups’ trading. The Tracker showed rolling 12-month sales to the end of August 2021 were down by 15% on the 12 months to August 2020 – a period that included the UK’s first national lockdown. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “August was a particularly impressive performance given the severe operational pressures that many businesses are working under, including staff shortages, supply problems and rising costs. Sales growth is testament to the resilience and adaptability of the hospitality industry and consumers’ ongoing enthusiasm for restaurants, pubs and bars.”

White Rabbit launches academy to tackle staffing crisis and get chefs back in kitchen: Hospitality development group White Rabbit Projects has teamed up with Leiths School of Food and Wine to introduce a new chef training scheme, Propel has learned. The White Rabbit Academy will invite budding chefs that are being supported by Leiths’ £750,000 scheme launched earlier this year to offer free or part-funded places on its online professional courses to train alongside White Rabbit Projects’ skilled kitchen staff at one of four hotel properties around the UK. It will also provide a fully funded spot on Leiths’ 24-week skills course, which is set to get under way next month for eight successful applicants. Following their graduation, one of the newly qualified chefs will be offered a fully funded two-week placement at a White Rabbit Projects-backed restaurant of their choosing, such as Kricket, Lina Stores and Island Poké. All graduates will have the opportunity to be hired as chef de parties and join the White Rabbit Projects family of restaurants. White Rabbit Projects founder Chris Miller said: “The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit throughout covid-19, and unfortunately as a combined result with Brexit, despite lockdown lifting and restaurants returning to ‘normal’, we’ve continued to experience a nationwide staff shortage. It is the responsibility of restaurant owners to remind chefs of the excitement and passion that comes with working in a professional kitchen and add value to their careers with additional training and mental health schemes. We’re delighted to work with Leiths to provide best-in-class training, and the opportunity for budding chefs to join our family of restaurants.” Former Soho House Group commercial director Miller set up White Rabbit Projects in 2016 as support partners in creating bespoke hospitality experiences, and has opened 35 restaurants to date.

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