Greene King trading ‘in line with expectations’

PUBS and brewing group Greene King said today that its key retail businesses were “trading well”.

PUBS and brewing group Greene King said today that its key retail businesses were “trading well”.

The Bury St Edmunds-based company said that like-for-like sales within Greene King Retail, its managed pubs business in England and Wales, were 4.4% up compared with the same period last year while those at Belhave Retail, its Scottish arm, were 3.3% ahead.

In an interim management statement for the 18 weeks to September 5, isssued ahead of its annual general meeting today, Greene King said the growth of the businesses, which represent around 70% of total group revenue, was being led by a continued focus on food.

Like-for-like food sales at Greene King retail were 8.6% up and this had not been achieved at the expense of margins which were themselves “slightly ahead” of last year, said the company.

Despite a “challenging” trading environment, the group’s tenanted and leased pubs business, Pub Partners, had achieved a 0.7% in average earnings per pubs during the first 16 weeks of the current year.

The Bury-based Brewing Company’s own-brewed volumes were down 4.6% after 18 weeks, but this was well ahead of an overall 8% decline in the UK ale market during the same period, said Greene King. This year’s figure was also up against comparative growth of more than 10% in the same period last year.

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“Overall, operating profit, cashflow and the balance sheet are strong, and in line with our expectations,” said the company. “The pubs acquired over the last year are trading very well and investment in our existing brands and formats is delivering healthy returns.

“The economic and consumer environment remains uncertain as a number of significant headwinds, including public sector cuts, benefits reform and the impending VAT rise, are likely to affect future household spending.

“However, we are confident of delivering another successful year for our shareholders, in which we will continue to expand our retail businesses and to invest in our brands to generate market share gains and deliver industry outperformance.”