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Mon 14th Mar 2022 - Managed groups grow like-for-like sales by 3% in February on pre-covid levels but cost stresses mount
Managed groups grow like-for-like sales by 3% in February on pre-covid levels but cost stresses mount, restaurants enjoy strong month: The lifting of all covid-19 restrictions helped Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups to raise sales above pre-pandemic levels in February, according to the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker – but high inflation continues to make real-terms growth elusive. The Tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, reveals groups’ like-for-like sales in February were 3% higher than in February 2019. This builds momentum from January, when comparative sales were 1% down, and a very challenging December 2021, when the Omicron variant pushed trading 11% below December 2019. Restaurants increased like-for-like sales by 9% in February, just outpacing the 7% growth for bars, which benefited from the scrapping of requirements for vaccination passes in late-night venues. Pubs had a tougher month, ending down 1% on the pre-covid-19 levels of February 2019. While the growth figures are encouraging, they are depressed by inflationary pressures. Recent editions of the Consumer Prices Index have shown that inflation is running at 5% to 6% over the last 12 months alone. Trading is also struggling to recover in London, the Tracker shows. Managed groups’ like-for-like sales inside the M25 in February were 4% below February 2019, compared with growth of 6% beyond the M25. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “These figures show managed groups are building momentum after two years of turmoil. Delivery and late-night bars are particularly buoyant at the moment, and underlying demand for hospitality experiences remains strong. However, margins are being tightly squeezed by fast-rising costs, and the cost-of-living crisis is likely to dent consumer spending as the year goes on. Some businesses remain extremely vulnerable, and there’s a powerful case for government support on tax and other issues to help them fuel the UK’s post-covid-19 economic recovery.” David Coffer, chairman at The Coffer Group, added: “I am I sure we will all be watching the central London statistics very carefully over the next few months. Hopefully, the return of overseas tourists, which is so sorely missed, will have a marked and positive effect.”


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