The average cost of running the average pub has stabilised for the first time since 2007, according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) 5th Benchmarking Survey. The study found that for the second year in a row, the average cost of running the average pub stood at 46% of turnover, with an additional 11.4% for rent across the leased sector. The ALMR said that operating costs as a percentage of turnover has climbed steadily since the survey began, peaking at 51% at the height of the recession. Like-for-like sales rose 3% in the year to October 2010, compared with a fall of 1.8% in 2008. The study found that small niche operators continued to outperform the market, with companies under 10 outlets experiencing like-for-like growth of 5% and over. The association also found that investment was back on track across the sector, with average capex of 2.5% of turnover, up from 2% last year, but still some way from the peak of 6% seen in 2008. The survey also found that compared to last year, legislative cost had risen 29%, wet sales had fallen 5.5% and food margins were up 14%. The full results of the report will be published on 20 June.