Record Christmas trading delivers sales boost for Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King

Greene King has reported increased sales across its businesses for the first 40 weeks of its current

Greene King has reported increased sales across its businesses for the first 40 weeks of its current year. - Credit: Archant

Pubs and brewing group Greene King today reported continued growth across its businesses, helped by “record trading” on Christmas Day.

Total sales within Greene King’s key retail division, consisting of pubs, restaurants and hotels, under direct management, were up by 67% in the 40 weeks to February 7, boosted by a 33-week contribution from sites acquired as part of the Spirit Pub Company last summer and the opening of 10 new sites.

Sales within the core Greene King retail estate rose by 6% in total and by 2.2% on a like-for-like basis, with growth in food, drink and rooms, while like-for-like sales in the Spirit managed house business were 1.1% ahead.

Over the two weeks either side of Christmas, like-for-like retail sales grew by 5.0% at Greene King and by 5.2% at Spirit.

In a trading update today, Greene King said: “We achieved record sales of £6.8million on Christmas Day in the combined retail estate which was led by food.”

It added: “Over the Christmas and New Year weeks, Prosecco volumes were up 69% while Premium Gin grew 77%, and at New Year a record 4,447 drinks per minute were sold in the last hour of 2015.”

At Pub Partners, Greene King’s leased and tenanted pubs division, like-for-like net income was 2.5% ahead at the 40-week stage, representing an improved trend compared with the first half of the year which saw the integration of the Spirit leased business.

Most Read

A number of individual pubs had “a great Christmas”, Greene King said, with five sites within its turnover agreement estate achieving sales of more than £40,000 in Christmas week. The division’s disposal programme was also on track with 33 Pub Partners sites sold so far this year, the group added.

Within Greene King’s Brewing & Brands business, own-brewed volume was up 3.9%, with growth driven by Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen.

“Greene King IPA has been helped by its popularity surge in China and the distribution from within the Spirit managed estate, the group said. “In addition, we recently announced that Greene King IPA is now the official beer of England cricket.”

Sales of Greene King IPA have surged in China since the nation’s president, Xi Jinping, was filmed drinking the ale with Prime Minister David Cameron while enjoying a fish and chip lunch in The Plough at Cadsen, Buckinghamshire, during a state visit to the UK last October.

Looking ahead, the group added: “Overall, our expectations for the full year are unchanged. Despite the current global economic uncertainty, we remain confident that we will deliver further value to our guests and shareholders by continuing to develop and enhance the existing Greene King business while successfully integrating Spirit.”

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand said: “This was another strong performance, with all divisions trading well during the important festive period, and record trading on Christmas Day.

“The latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker shows that, despite varying their choices when eating out, pubs were a major destination for customers. Our positive trading results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams who gave our guests great experiences, with value, service and quality central to our offer.

“I am pleased to report continued progress with the Spirit integration, including encouraging signs from our rebranded trial sites thus far, and continued progress in terms of synergy delivery.

“Our focus remains on the development and continuous enhancement of our core Greene King business while successfully integrating Spirit, to create the UK’s leading pub company.”

Under the integration of the Spirit business with Greene King, head office and group support functions will continue to be based in Bury St Edmunds, together with the Pub Partners and Brewing & Brands businesses.

However, the enlarged retail business will be based at the former Spirit headquarters in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire.

Greene King has been consulting with staff at both locations on potential job losses but has pledged to keep redundancies to a minimum, with staff being offered redeployment where possible, and has stressed that Bury will remain “central” to its operations.

It is understood that a number of employees in Bury have been informed that they will have to relocate to Burton or face redundancy, but Greene King said today it was not in a position to detail the number of staff affected, or the net impact of the changes on the level of employment in Bury, as the process was still on-going.