The pub and restaurant market is entering the summer season on the back of encouraging monthly sales, new data released this week suggests.
Signs of growth in the restaurant market are always good news for the catering equipment industry, so the market will be heartened to hear that collective like-for-like restaurant sales increased 1.2% in May versus the same month last year.
Total sales, including the impact of new openings, were up 4.5%, according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
The London market had the healthiest growth, with like-for-likes up 1.8%, and with managed pubs in the capital performing particularly strongly.
“After a poor, weather-affected start to the year, operators will be pleased to see some real growth in the market,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, which produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.
“Despite May being colder and wetter than average, the public have shown they still have the appetite to go out to eat and drink,” Martin added.
Mainstream restaurant chains actually saw a better performance away from London, both in terms of like-for-like and total sales growth. Many of the market’s most recent openings have come from the branded casual dining sector outside of greater London.
However, pubs and bars outside the M25 didn’t have quite such a good month. Collective like-for-like sales were essentially flat, with drink-led pubs seeing a decline.
Underlying growth trends also improved last month. On a year-on-year basis, collective like-for-like sales for the 27 companies in the Tracker sample were ahead 1.0% for the 12 months up to the end of May against the previous 12 months. Total sales were running ahead 4.1% year-on-year.
Paul Newman, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said the fact that the UK continues to be targeted by international brands is evidence that the market remains fairly robust.
“US burger chains Five Guys and Shake Shack are following the likes of Chipotle by testing their concepts in the London market and Jumeirah-owned brand Noodle House is also poised to hit the UK over the coming months,” he said.
“While great news for the consumer, these nimble and well-funded market entrants are likely to increase the pressures facing incumbent operators in an already highly competitive marketplace.”