Food sales lead May uplift for UK pubs and restaurants

Adam Hignett
The pub market outside of London is flat, with any growth coming from food sales
Britain's pubs and restaurants enjoyed brisk trading in May, offsetting what had been a slow start to the year in the sector.

Figures released yesterday by the Coffer Peach Business Tracker revealed like-for-like sales climbed 2.1 per cent compared to the same period last year. The strong growth comes after the tracker, which analyses sales from the top 30 pub and restaurant chains throughout the UK, recorded growth of just 1.2 per cent in April after a 0.3 per cent decline in March.

Describing the results as “particularly encouraging,” Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach said the strong performance was experienced nationwide, not just in London.

Total sales in May among the sample were ahead 6.2 per cent, reflecting the continued roll-out of new sites, especially of branded restaurants outside of London.

Restaurant chains were the big winners, with collective like-for-like sales up 4.3 per cent nationally.

“Managed pub groups also saw positive, if more modest, growth in the month, with collective like-for-likes up 1.1 per cent nationally and 0.9 per cent outside of the M25,” said Martin.

He added the pub market away from London remains essentially flat, and what growth there is in the market is coming almost exclusively from food sales: “Nationally food sales in pubs were up 4.5 per cent in May, against a 0.9 per cent decline in drink sales,” he said.

The solid performance in the managed sector comes after Greene King moves ahead with its acquisition of Spirit Pub Company, giving it control of 1,800 pubs.

The report also found the effect of the weather on sales in the month was mixed, with May being sunnier than the average for that time of year, but also colder and wetter.

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