Sales at the UK’s major restaurant and pub operators are generally holding up against last year despite the squeeze on consumer spending and increased competition from supermarkets, research has revealed.
Aggregated figures from 12 major groups – including Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread, Punch Pub Company, Gondola Holdings and Tragus - show that like-for-like sales in May were up by 0.6% compared to last year, and 3.7% up compared to April.
Peter Martin, founder of the Peach Factory consultancy, said: “These figures demonstrate that managed, and largely branded, groups are in general bucking the trend and continuing to attract customers through their doors. If anyone is being squeezed, it seems to be the independent sector.
”It is hard to say if this is down to increased promotional activity, more sophisticated marketing, better value, consistent quality and service, the reassuring strength of brands or even an increase in consumer confidence about going out.
“The bottom line is that these established restaurant and pub groups are working harder and continuing to maintain custom,” he added.
However, Trevor Watson, director of Davis Coffer Lyons, part of The Coffer Group, warned that pressure on margins will remain.
“Whilst these positive like for like figures are very encouraging, no one should be under any illusions as to how difficult trading conditions are,” he said.
“The combined effect of discounting, the forthcoming impact of increases in the National Minimum Wage and the treatment of service charges, higher oil prices, and VAT increases will continue to put a lot of pressure on profit conversion for most operators over the next 12 months.”
Companies participating in the Peach Business Tracker:
Mitchells & Butlers,
Whitbread Restaurants (including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Table Table),
Punch Pub Company (formerly Spirit Group),
Gondola (owner of Pizza Express, Zizzi and Ask),
Tragus Group (operator of Bella Italia, Strada and Café Rouge),
Paramount Restaurants (owner of Chez Gerard, Bertorellis and Caffe Uno),
Novus Leisure (operator of Tiger Tiger),
By Daniel Thomas
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