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Sluggish May for managed on-trade operators

Published:  19 June, 2014

Although 2014 kicked off with a bang, managed pub and restaurant operators saw sales growth slow in May with like-for-like sales up just 0.2% compared to the same month last year.

That's according to the  Coffer Peach Business Tracker, and follows April's 4.4% increase in lfls and 4.6% growth in March.

May sales for the on-trade managed sector were sluggishMay sales for the on-trade managed sector were sluggishSource: Mitchells & ButlersAlthough May represented a bit of a slow-down for managed on-trade operators, the overall picture shows 14 consecutive months of growth, according to the Coffer Peach Tracker.

But the overall picture is still good with year-on-year same-store trading running at 2.9%, a full 14 consecutive months of like-for-like sales growth for the sector. May's total sales, including new openings, were 2.5% ahead of last year.

"The levelling off of growth will be a reminder that recovery is not guaranteed, although the underlying trend for the market remains strongly positive as the public continue to go out to eat and drink. But competition from smaller and newer operators and also other leisure attractions remains fierce," said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.

London performed ahead of the rest of the country, with lfls up 1.1%. Pub sales in the capital grew 3%, or 4% for drink led businesses, while casual dining chains saw lfls fall by 1.3%.

Elsewhere pubs suffered and restaurant groups saw a 1.9% increase in sales. Total sales for casual dining grew 9.1% on May last year - pointing to the continued expansion of branded operations outside London.

 "Staying fresh and offering something new remains a big challenge for even the most experienced operator," Martin said.

The 28 companies now contributing to the Tracker have together seen positive like-for-like sales for each of the past 14 months. Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales were up 2.9% for the 12 months to the end of May, in line with the end of April, and with total sales running 5.4% ahead.

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: "This month's figures once again show that the leisure market remains robust."