Suffolk brewer Greene King says sales lifted over the summer by warm weather and World Cup
PUBLISHED: 13:16 09 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 09 September 2018
A combination of the World Cup and the warm summer weather lifted sales of Bury St Edmunds brewer Greene King with England football fans drinking more than three million pints during the tournament.
It has resulted in a bounce back from a profit downgrade this time last year that took the fizz out of its share price.
The brewer and pub operator reported strong summer trading thanks to a combination of its own efforts to drive sales, the hot weather and the World Cup.
It said “positive momentum” had helped it record a 2.8% increase in like-for-like sales in the 18 weeks to September 2 – with growth of 3.2% over the last 10 weeks.
Its branded local pubs traded particularly well, with like-for-like sales up 5.5%, driven by fans sinking drinks during England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.
A total of 3.7 million pints of beer were sold during the team’s seven matches in the tournament, and like-for-like sales on the day of the semi-final were up 61%.
The results will come as welcome relief for the pubs group, which recently posted a slump in profits amid “unprecedented” cost rises. It blamed cost pressures for like-for-like sales falling 0.4% at Greene King’s pub partners unit.
Greene King, which was founded in 1799 in Bury St Edmunds, brews beers including Abbot Ale and Belhaven and operates 2,850 pubs under brands that also include Farmhouse Inns and Chef & Brewer.
Football fans are good for business. Over the seven matches Gareth Southgate’s side played in the World Cup Greene King’s pubs sold 3.7 million pints of beer, and like-for-like sales on the day of the team’s semi-final against Croatia were up 61%.
Like-for-like sales in its branded local pubs were up by 5.5% in the 18-week period, driven largely by increased sales during the World Cup. Meanwhile, like-for-like sales at its pub partners unit were down 0.4%, which the group blamed on continuing cost pressures.
Greene King said it remains on track to dispose of between 100 and 110 pubs this year, while opening another nine outlets.
Rooney Anand, chief executive, said that after last year’s big downgrade the group had invested £10 million in value, service and quality, had shed its poorer sites more aggressively and had addressed issues at its value brands.
He said that the group’s focus on sport had served it well during the World Cup and that its pubs had sold 3.7 million pints of beer in total during England’s seven matches, while gin sales had continued to soar.