More restaurant chains could close stores after poor Christmas sales

Alys Key
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British-backed Byron Burger Chain Open For Business
More businesses are facing the same issues as Byron (Source: Getty)

Christmas trading was disappointing at Britain's restaurant and pub groups, with sales slightly down on 2016.

Like-for-like sales declined 0.1 per cent against the previous year's festive period, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Drinks-led businesses fared better than restaurants and gastro pubs, with drinks sales up 1.8 per cent across pubs while food declined 1.4 per cent in the same sector.

The gap was even bigger in London, where casual dining was down 2.6 per cent while pubs increased sales by 1.5 per cent.

National sales at restaurant chains dropped by one per cent.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM advisers, said there could be several site closures this year.

"Since the New Year a number of high profile brands have already announced site closure plans," he said "With consumer confidence waning and uncertainty ahead of Brexit, we expect our restructuring teams to be kept busy in the months ahead."

Byron Burger, which is one of the restaurant chains followed by the tracker, is currently planning store closures. Jamie's Italian, which is not part of the data, has also announced that several of its restaurants could face the chop in new restructuring plans.

“Although the sector will be disappointed it didn't beat 2016’s numbers, the results do reflect the flat trading we’ve seen in the market over the past year," said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, which compiles the data.

But pub and bar groups such as Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate, which is part of the tracker, have already reported positive Christmas sales as consumers spend more on alcohol.

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