- Slowdown in eating and drinking-out
- Like-for-like sales down 3.7% in February
Britain’s leading pub and restaurant groups are reporting tough trading conditions at the start of 2012 – with collective like-for-like sales down 3.7% in February, following a 2.1% fall in January.
Total sales in February, which include the effect of new openings, were only marginally up on last year at +0.6%. Month-on-month, February sales were up 8.4% on January.
The figures come from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker*, the industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector, which collects monthly performance data from 23 operating groups.
“These are disappointing figures, as over the past two years the informal eating and drinking-out market has generally kept its head above water despite everything the economy has thrown at it,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, in partnership with KPMG, UBS and the Coffer Group.
“It might be a prolonged hangover after what was bumper trading over Christmas and the New Year, or it might signal a new tightening of consumer belts – certainly poor weather played it’s part. The market will do well to remain cautious, but also focused on giving customers, who may be looking for something new, a compelling reason to go out. We are still predicting another essentially flat trading year,” Martin added.
The market had recorded collective like-for-likes up 9.9% in December, with total sales ahead 13.7%.
The latest more downbeat Tracker figures are inline with other published data, with JD Wetherspoon reporting like-for-likes down 0.7% in the six weeks to 4 March. Pubs generally continue to trade better than high street restaurant chains.
“A major challenge for groups in the coming year will be how they handle the issue of discounting and vouchers, which have been important factors for many groups in attracting business over the past two years,” added Martin. “Our recent survey of senior executives in the industry suggested that most wanted to either peg or reduce discounting and vouchering this year, although they doubted the rest of the market would follow suit. Most see more benefit in developing digital, especially mobile phone, marketing activities.”
Trevor Watson, Director of Valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said, “Although the longer term pictures remains broadly flat, the short-term results for February, which reflect the adverse weather during the month, are naturally disappointing. Value for consumers has never been better in the eating-out market, and as some operators look towards moving away from discounting there could be a small increase in spend per head later in the year.
“Operators continue to remain focused on margin preservation. Clearly London operators are looking to maximise the benefits of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. These provide a fabulous opportunity, but will lead to some re-distribution of trade and some operational challenges.”
Richard Hathaway, KPMG’s Head of Travel, Leisure & Tourism, added: “Trading conditions for the sector remain tough and they are likely to be with us for a while. The cold weather in early February added to the challenges presented by still fragile consumer confidence.
“However, over the past 18 months we have seen just how resilient the UK’s eating and drinking out market is and total sales growth remains positive due to the impact of recent and continued investment by the major pub and restaurant operators in new and revamped sites.”
Jonathan Leinster, Head of UBS European Leisure Research, commented: “Trading across the sector appears to have worsened, after a strong December. JD Wetherspoon is the only operator to have yet commented on February trading, and we note that its management pointed to weekly volatility throughout the period, so a weaker February does not necessarily mark a new trend.
“Concerns over UK consumer spending are not new, but are likely to linger given the weakness reported today. We do believe however that despite rising unemployment, consumers are still happy to allocate discretionary spend to eating and drinking out. The latest UBS UK household cash flow published in November indicates that cashflow pre-savings should rise 1.6% in the current year, a significant improvement on 2011. We maintain ‘buy’ ratings on JD Wetherspoon, Marston’s and Greene King.
Source: Coffer Peach Business Tracker
Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix
About Coffer Peach Business Tracker
Peach Factory collects sales figures directly from 23 leading companies every month. Participants include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Browns, All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Gondola (PizzaExpress, Zizzi, ASK, Byron), Tragus (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Strada), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’), Spirit Group (Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Orchid Pub Co, Marston’s, Wagamama, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Young’s and Fuller’s.
For more comment contact:
Peter Martin, Peach Factory
01704 550383(office); 07889 209896 (mobile)
Claudia Robinson, Coffer Group
0207 299 0709
Katrin Boettger, KPMG
0207 896 4232
Richard Morton , UBS Media Relations
+44 20 7568 0175
About Peach Factory:
Peach Factory is a specialist business intelligence business, providing insight, analysis and access to the eating-out and drinking-out markets. It produces sector research and operates the Peach Network business network for senior executives across the sector. Business Tracker collects sales data from participating companies on a totally confidential basis to produce aggregated figures for the sector as a whole every month.
About Coffer Group
The Coffer Group is the leisure property industry’s leading advisory business. Built on nearly 40 years’ experience in the sector, the group combines the UK’s leading agency and corporate advisory leisure property businesses, Davis Coffer Lyons (DCL) Coffer Corporate Leisure (CCL) and hotels specialist division Coffer Hotels. The group deals exclusively with all types of leisure property, covering restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pubs, shopping centre food outlets, health and fitness, leisure schemes, theatre, golf courses, hotels and casinos. Its services are comprehensive including both consultancy and transaction based advice on single businesses and properties through to multi-million pound portfolios.
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with nearly 11,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.6 billion in the year ended September 2010. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 150 countries and have more than 138,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. KPMG International provides no client services.
UBS is a leading global wealth manager, a leading, global investment banking and securities firm and one of the largest global asset managers. In Switzerland, UBS is the market leader in retail and commercial banking.