Comfort foods continue to draw in customers

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 21st January 2009

Australian retail food brand manager and franchisor Retail Food Group Limited (RFG) announced earlier this week that retail trade performance of its four franchise systems during December 2008 remained positive, thus consolidating “excellent 1H09 results” and indicating that Australian consumers are still willing to indulge their taste buds with comfort foods.

The Donut King, Michel’s Patisserie, Brumby’s Bakeries and bb’s café franchise systems have continued to achieve healthy growth for the 6 month period – ended 31st December 2008 – over the previous corresponding period, the Company advised.

“Significantly, the robust retail trade experienced by our franchise systems during November and December 2008 has resulted in a weighted average weekly sales growth across all outlets of approximately 5.8% – a considerable increase on the 4.0% growth reported as at the end of October 2008,” RFG CEO Tony Alford said.

The growth in sales highlights that food treats are still well and truly on the customer menu, with the Retail Food Group results following indications from other food franchises that takeaway food sales are holding up better than the ABS data suggests.

Official ABS figures indicate cafés, restaurants and takeaway outlets have faced their most challenging year in over a decade, with the sales trend figure falling by over 4 per cent in the twelve months to December, representing a sharp contrast to the 5% increase for food retailers. With a number of takeaway franchises, including McDonald’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Bakers Delight, reporting that sales continue to grow, it appears that restaurants and cafés have taken the greatest hit during the downturn, thus far.

“Most of our chains have an impulse-buy or reward or time-out aspect to them, so as long as people continue to go into the shopping centres we’ll continue to get our fair percentage of the trade,” Mr Alford concluded, according to The Australian.