According to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, total sales in November (including the impact of new openings) were up 4.8 per cent across 27 of the UK’s largest operating groups – stronger growth than the previous two months.
Managed pub groups were ahead of the market, with a 2.4 per cent like-for-like sales increase.
Peter Martin of CGA Peach, which produces the Tracker, said: “It was a better performance than in either October or September, when like-for-likes grew 1 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively, with the market now showing sustained if slow growth.
“Regionally, operators outside of London had a better month too, trading only just behind London, with like-for-likes up 1.6 per cent, compared to 1.8 per cent for the capital.
“These are encouraging figures, especially as November 2012 had been a particularly strong month boosted by some school half term holidays falling in the month.”
Road to recovery
Managed pub operators performed best, but restaurant groups had a tougher time, with like-for-likes flat last month. “While branded chains, busy opening new sites, are the main drivers of total sales growth, that doesn’t seem to be being converted into same-store growth,” explained Martin.
Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, added: “The sustained, gentle recovery is clearly established. The political cycle and the need for the Government to deliver a recovery leading up to the next election suggests that, barring a major global event, 2014 should see a steady improvement in consumer confidence. This will be led, at least in part, by the ongoing housing market recovery or boom (depending where in the country you are).”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said: “A 1.7 per cent increase in like for like sales against very strong comparatives from November 2012, which were themselves up 3.4 per cent on the same month in 2011, can only help to reinforce the investment credentials of the pub and restaurant industry. It also represents the eighth consecutive month of growth.
“Private capital continues to flow into a sector with a proven ability to generate strong returns on investment and an influx of private equity and EIS funding raised in 2013 has likely helped drive new site openings across the UK to over 90 in November alone, a record for the year. An increasingly discerning, experimental UK consumer that rewards innovation should ensure that this trend continues into 2014.”
And Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, added: “November numbers are stronger than the year to date averages of 0.7 per cent for LFL growth and 3.5 per cent for total growth, despite tough comps of 3.4 per cent in November 2012. Regional like-for-like growth was also strong last month at 1.6 per cent, compared to a year-to-date average of 0.2 per cent. London saw LFL growth of 1.8 per cent, broadly in line with the year-to-date average.”