Wet-led pubs boost February like-for-like sales

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wet-led resurgence: February trading figures have revealed that wet-led pubs are driving growth.
Wet-led resurgence: February trading figures have revealed that wet-led pubs are driving growth.

Related tags: Stonegate pub company, Alcoholic beverage

Despite harsh weather that struck the UK towards the end of the month, February saw strong trading for many hospitality operators.

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.”

Related topics: Other operators

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