Analysis of sales data from more than 100 organisations using Catton Hospitality’s S4Labour management software revealed an average 0.2% increase in revenues versus February 2017.
This was primarily driven by wet-led operators who saw, on average, a 4.8% uplift in sales across their sites. Food led operators however, experienced a tougher month, with sales falling on average 0.6% year-on-year.
These figures come off the back of strong Christmas and January trading periods for wet-led pubs against those predominantly offering food – with Catton Hospitality figures also revealing the increased significance of Christmas Day as a trading day for pubs.
According to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, drink sales in pubs rose 1.8% over the festive period, while food revenues declined 1.4%. The Tracker also revealed a successful January for drinks led businesses, with a 1% increase in pub like-for-like sales.
'Thirst for innovation'
Speaking to The Times, Stonegate Pub Company chief executive Simon Longbottom commented: “At the minute, because of supply and demand and the lack of focus and investment on the pub, I think those that are focusing time and energy on the high-street pub and bar are having success. It’s a lot more difficult in a crowded area, which the food guys are finding.”
Stating that the death of the pub had been “overplayed” amid suggestions that people were spending less on drinks, Longbottom added: “Underneath the surface, yes, people are drinking less, but they have a thirst for innovation and more interesting drinks.”
Also speaking to The Times, KPMG global head of leisure and hospitality Will Hawkley added: “In a tough environment with increasing wages, business rates and costs, by running a wet-led business, you’re going to lower your costs of labour. Even if you just do simple food, your margins on drink are going to be higher.”