Larger restaurant groups benefit from rebound in festive bookings

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Larger restaurant groups Hawksmoor Gaucho Inception Group benefit from rebound in festive bookings

Related tags Christmas Casual dining Multi-site R200 Hawksmoor Rare Restaurants Inception Group

Larger restaurant groups including Hawksmoor and Rare Restaurants are reporting a rebound in festive bookings.

Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants, which runs the nationwide Gaucho steakhouse brand, told the Financial Times​that table bookings across the group’s 23 sites were up by 21% compared with last year, as of early December.

Similarly, Will Beckett, co-founder of rival steak chain Hawksmoor, told the publication his restaurants were ‘heaving’, with bookings up as much as 30% on last year.

Meanwhile, Charlie Gilkes, CEO of the London-based Inception Group, said event bookings for December across his group’s estate were 10% ahead of this time last year, with strong demand from both corporate and private clients.

The figures tally with reports from other larger operators.

In a financial statement released last week, London-based bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan said that ‘record’ Christmas bookings had been recorded across the group’s 18-strong estate​ and were up more than 20% on last year.

Similarly, both Fuller’s and Marston’s, two of the UK’s biggest listed pub groups, have reported strong Christmas performances well ahead of last year in recent trading updates.

It comes as Britain’s leading hospitality groups achieved year-on-year sales growth of 4.0% in November​, according to the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker.

The Tracker indicates an equally solid month for pubs, where like-for-like sales were 5.0% ahead of November 2022; and restaurants, where growth reached 4.9%.

“These year-on-year increase in sales will be viewed with quiet optimism as the Christmas party season gets into full swing,” says Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK.

“Large businesses are shunning all-staff corporate gatherings which are being replaced with smaller team celebrations, sparking a surge in bookings for pubs and restaurants which are better placed to host such events.

“After years of Covid restrictions, operators are all set for partygoers to splash their cash this December despite an uncertain economic outlook.”

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