The improved top-line performance comes following a 2 per cent fall in like-for-likes in what was an unusually cold and wet April.However, the improvements were not reflected in all parts of the market, with the weather again influencing the public’s choice of where to eat out.
“Pubs and pub restaurants were the best performers, and particularly those inside the M25,” explained Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and UBS.
“The hotter weather at the end of May was a help for them after a cool start. High street casual dining chains generally had a tougher month, and especially in London where competition is fiercest.
Competition heating up
“The annualised like-for-like sales growth rate for the leading groups is currently running at around 2 per cent. New site openings are pushing up total sales by more than that, but that is also increasing competitive pressures, as consumers increase the number of brands they use as they shop around for better value, better quality and better experiences. Competition between brands and companies is becoming much more intense.
“We are also beginning to see the effects of casual dining chains trying to cut back on voucher activity.”
The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 24 operating groups.
Pub and restaurant group monthly sales performance for past 12 months
Martin added: “Overall, the market remains volatile, like the weather, with see-sawing performances. April was down, although March was up,but that followed a very shaky start to 2012 in Januaryand February.”
David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “These are very encouraging results. The only surprise is the level of progress being made on year on year like for likes. The big question is whether this growth will be sustained in the face of any significant developments in the Eurozone crisis.
“Further complications to the market will be the impact of the London 2012 Olympics where the jury is out as to whether it will be positive or a big turn-off for the food and beverage market.”