Managed pub and restaurant groups were back in growth in April, with collective like-for-like sales up 4.4% compared with the same month last year.
That is according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, produced by business insight consultancy CGA Peach in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
The numbers compare with a 0.5% dip in like-for-likes in March, largely due to the Easter holidays falling in March last year but in April this year.
Managed pub operators saw a 6.1% jump in collective like-for-like sales in April, compared with a 1.5% increase for restaurant chains.
Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach said: “This can be put down in part to the drier weather this year, with branded restaurants in London having a particularly tough April, but we have also seen restaurant performance generally slipping behind the pub sector in recent months.”
On a regional basis, London was up 2.8% in April, compared to a 4.9% like-for-like increase for outside the M25, reversing the pattern seen in March.
“The fluctuations between London and the rest of the country shows that there is still volatility in the market – and despite the bounce in April, operators will remain cautious about prospects for the rest of the year, and underlying growth is still fragile,” added Martin.
Total sales growth was up 7.4%, reflecting the continuing impact of new openings over the year. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.1% ahead for the 12 months to the end of March.
Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “There is an increasing awareness that the rate of new restaurant openings has exceeded wet-led venues in recent years and the industry and the statistics for the industry as a whole reflect this. I think we can expect to see managed wet-led venues out-perform restaurants in terms of sales growth for the next few months while consumer confidence is expected to weaken.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “This month’s figures show that the habitual and prioritised nature of spending on eating and drinking out continues to prevail. Operators need to remain innovative and flexible to cater for changing demand patterns as economic uncertainty takes its toll on discretionary spending.”