Bury St Edmunds: Greene King on track to hit annual profits forecast

PUBS and brewing group Greene King said today that the strong performance of its businesses had continued into the final quarter of its financial year.

In a final update ahead of its results for the year to April 29, due out in June, the Bury St Edmunds-based group said like-for-like sales within its retail division were up 4.6% in the 50 weeks to April 15.

Growth in the last 13 weeks was marginally softer compared with the year-to-date, at 4.5%, boosted by 6.7% growth in like-for-like food sales compared with 6.3% for the year so far.

Average earnings per pub within the group’s leased, tenanted and franchised business were 3.8% higher after 48 weeks of the year.

And, within its brewing division, core brand owned-brewed volumes were 0.8% ahead, despite industry figures showing a contraction in the overall UK ale market.

Greene King chief executgive Rooney Anand said: “Our strong trading momentum continued through the final quarter of our financial year, with particularly good growth in our key business, Greene King Retail. Our focus on delivering unrivalled value, service and quality to our customers continues to drive our growth.

“Following a record Christmas, we achieved very strong like-for-like sales growth on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. On Mother’s Day, we sold 220,000 meals, up 16% on the previous year, with wine sales up 18%. Easter sales this year, despite more mixed weather, were in line with Easter last year.”

Most Read

He added: “Our success at big events and our performance in London, where like-for-like sales are up 6.7%, bode well for the upcoming summer as we are well placed to benefit from the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics.”

Greene King said that, overall, its profit, cashflow and balance sheet “remain in line with our expectations”.

The group said March had been “very strong” for its retail business – consisting of managed pubs and restaurants – helped by the warmer weather, while February was in line with the previous year, despite tough comparatives.

Its focus on the eating out market continued to generate good growth, with recent performance helped by the launch, ahead of Easter, of new spring menus across a number of its retail brands and formats.

The group added that its retail expansion strategy was on track with 37 new sites acquired or developed in the year so far.

Within the Pub Partners leased, tenanted and franchised pubs business, total like-for-like earnings were marginally lower, by 0.1%, but 0.5% higher in the core estate, reflecting the continued disposal of non-core sites of which 97 have now been sold so far this year.

In the group’s Brewing & Brands division, the growth in core own-brewed volumes was achieved against the background of an overall 4.5% fall in the UK ale market.

The period included the first weeks of a new �4million marketing campaign for Greene King IPA, the UK’s leading cask ale brand, as part of a relaunch which also included the addition of two new beers – Greene King IPA Gold and Greene King IPA Reserve.