Leisure: Spirit Pub Company beats profit forecasts following strong summer sales

The Red Lion at Martlesham.

The Red Lion at Martlesham.

One of the UK’s biggest pub chains has topped up the City’s profit forecasts after a better-than-expected summer for food and drink sales.

Spirit Pub Company, whose brands include Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square and Flaming Grill, said revenues were 2.1% higher on a like-for-like basis in the 12 weeks to August 16, leading to growth of 4.4% across its financial year.

Chief executive Mike Tye said the performance in the quarter was strong, particularly as market conditions remained challenging and the company faced testing comparatives following good summer weather last year.

He added: “We remain confident in the long-term outlook for the business and expect full year results to be ahead of market expectations.”

The guidance prompted analysts at Shore Capital Stockbrokers to raise their forecasts for profits to around £60million in the year to August 16, from £56.8m previously.

Spirit has has more than 1,200 pubs across the country following its demerger from Punch Taverns in 2011. The managed estate comprises more than 750 sites and continues to benefit from a market-beating performance.

Food sales were 2% higher on an underlying basis in the most recent quarter, while drink sales gained 2.3% on a year earlier.

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Spirit’s leased pub estate, which is made up of around 450 outlets, grew net income by 4.8% in the 12 week period.

Besides the Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square and Flaming Grill pub restaurant brands, Spirit also owns the drink-led John Barras and Taylor Walker chains.

Its properties in East Anglia include the Royal George in Ipswich, the Red Lion at Martlesham, the Grosvenor in Felixstowe, the Rovers Tye in Colchester and the Rose & Crown in Wivenhoe.

Leisure industry analyst Mark Brumby, of Langton Capital, said: “The numbers are good and, even with comparatives toughening, the group has managed to convey the feeling that momentum is building.

“The pub sector has arguably suffered more than most in the messy aftermath of the financial crash and, with UK consumer spending becoming healthier, Spirit may be positioning itself to benefit from a more positive trading environment.”