M&C Report’s Trade Tracker, which is supported by Torex, supplier of customer and business insight, takes a look at sector trading over the previous seven days. From a list of 40 businesses in the eating and drinking out sector, 10 give a snapshot of trading each week. The milder weather continued to reap rewards for most operators last week, which overall produced positive like-for-likes for many. Forecasts of colder, windier and snowy weather are cause for concern, but otherwise last week was described as pretty “unremarkable”. London continues to produce strong growth, with key locations in the capital doing exceptionally well. Here’s what 10 different companies told M&C Report: Jamie’s Italian Flat but stable, is how Jamie’s Italian’s managing director Simon Blagden describes trade for last week, with London’s West End continuing to buck the trend and trading 20% up on like-for-likes. “Things really haven’t moved on in the last three to four weeks,” said Blagden, adding that he had been hoping for some positive movement over the past couple of weeks. “Everywhere is quiet. People aren’t moving about on the street as much. It’s not easy and we just have to work even harder.” Jamie’s Italian is running activity alongside the launch of its new menu, offering a free glass of Prosecco to customers trying something from the new menu. Also, local promotions are being held, inviting groups of PAs from local businesses into their nearest restaurant to sample the Christmas offering. “We run a series of taster evenings, with canapés and mini versions of our Christmas menu, for businesses looking to plan parties,” added Blagden. Probably a Pub Company The Midlands-based pub operator is seeing like-for-likes up 12%, which company owner Mike Staniforth attributes to the milder weather this month. “I think the psychology of our customers is that when the weather is good they will have a run out in the car to the nice villages to have lunch or an evening meal,” said Staniforth, adding that the Carnavon in Teveral was continuing to reap the rewards of recent investment that boosted restaurant covers by 40 places. “When we’re serving 80 extra covers a week at an average spend of £18 a head, that has an impact, but across the board our pubs are all averaging a 12% upturn.” A new loyalty scheme is to be rolled out later this week, which will see 8,500 customers emailed over the next few weeks, inviting them to sign up for a company loyalty card which will offer them 25% of any main meal and 25% off selected wines. Customers wanting a loyalty card must come into their nearest venue to register on the pub’s own loyalty iPAD. Feng Sushi Last week was good for Japanese restaurant chain Feng Sushi. Four weeks on since its seventh site opened in London’s fresh fish market, Billingsgate, the new site continues to grow, receiving 70 orders a day, against a targeted 100 orders a day. Across the business, like-for-likes are up 10-12%, which co-founder Silla Bjerrum puts down to good marketing. “We are seeing a lot of benefits from our new website, and last week we did some leafleting, which we hadn’t done for a while, and this bought in good trade. We are also changing our menus every two months and are about to launch our new autumn menu,” said Bjerrum. “I believe our success is down to us stimulating various areas all the time.” Currently Billingsgate is reliant on desk deliveries and take-aways, having very limited seating, but Bjerrum admitted she now has aspirations to have a restaurant in Billingsgate, such as those seen in fish markets in Japan. Tavistock Leisure With coastal sites and venues with gardens, October’s unseasonably good weather has helped boost trade for Tavistock Leisure, with 10 bars and restaurants in the north east of England. Like-for-likes are up 5% throughout the month, and follows a good September. “We’ve been doing well since the start of the summer,” said Mark Hird, managing director. “We had a leaner start to the year, following an horrendous December, but are making it up now.” Tavistock has recently change strategy, focusing on increasing footfall at the expense of gross profit margins. “We have made our key lines very competitively priced which is increasing footfall in our venues Monday to Thursday and in the day time. It’s a case of us favouring turnover over profit, which is being hit by one or two per cent. In the current climate we believe the name of the game is getting people through the door,” added Hird. Grand Union Group After the previous few weeks of unusually fine weather and record October trade, the last week has, unsurprisingly, not been so eventful for the Grand Union Group. Turnover has remained static like-for-like with last year, with the exception of the operator’s two new sites, in London’s Farringdon and Paddington. “They have hit their stride and are currently looking to be very profitable throughout the winter period,” said managing director Adam Marshall. With these two sites on board, the company’s turnover is 6% up on last year. “While this week has been nothing to shout about, we’re looking forward to a very positive winter season,” added Marshall. Snug Bar A good week for Snug Bar, with four cocktail bars in Cambridge, Hertford and St Albans, with like-for-likes for the second week of October up 18%, following on from a 6% rise in the first week. Its Hertford town centre site had a remarkable week, trading 59% up against last year, and saw the third consecutive Saturday producing record takings, which was attributed to the closure of a nearby competitor. “We are performing well, which is due to a variety of things that makes us different. Our venues are unique on the high street; we have got back to basics as far as our offering and how we look after our guests. We have been revisiting our brand values,” said co-founder Giles Fry. Orange Tree Group Like-for-likes are static for the Orange Tree Group, with six sites aimed at the student market. “At this time of year there is a lot of new student and fresher activity going on which keeps us reasonably busy, but that is the case every year and this year is no better or worse,” said managing director Ben Hings. Food-related promotions in Leicester have reaped rewards for the site, but the wet-side of the business isn’t doing “anything major”, added Hings. Chop’d Chop’d, the six-strong London-based salad bar chain, reported sales up 18% over the last week. Eddie Holmes, managing director, said: “We consider that to be our base level for sales growth. At the end of September with the warmer weather, sales were up by 34% on the previous year. The fact that we are consistently seeing sales up by around the 18% mark shows that we are not weather dependent.” Holmes said that trading was consistent across all of the group’s sites. “There isn’t a weak one, they are all performing well, and the brand continued to generate business from a wide demographic range." The group is set to open its seventh site in the capital at Boxpark, the world’s first and only pop-up mall that is set to open in Shoreditch in November. New Pub Company Strong double-digit growth is still being experienced by this seven strong, London-based pub company. “It’s been a terrific week for us,” said managing director Peter Linacre, adding that business traded up sharply last week, which he attributed to the rugby and events running in pubs. “At Hammersmith we’ve been serving breakfasts and with the Kiwi connection there we did well all day on Saturday. We have a lot going on in our pubs, we hold a Brazilian party event every month at the Colliers Tup in Colliers Wood, which has turned into a huge event for us. You have to give people a reason to come out,” he said, adding that London was lucky as trade remained reasonably strong. Southern Counties Taverns Trade is better than expected in October for this 14-strong chain of community, wet-led pubs in the south of England. Like-for-likes are up 7%, although profits were slightly down, averaging 3%, due to the VAT increase. “We are now looking at being a bit careful, as we head into winter, with the extra gas prices we’re facing,” said managing director Bert Johnson. “But overall, things are better than expected and hopefully this will continue.”