UPDATE: Greene King to create 3,000 new jobs after record first half

PUBS and brewing group Greene King defied the economic gloom today by announcing record-breaking first-half results – and revealed plans to create 3,000 new jobs over the next three years.

The Bury St Edmunds-based company reported a 5.1% increase in operating profit for the 24 weeks to October 16 to �115.6million ? its best-ever figure for the first half of its financial year.

The figure was achieved on revenues up 9% at �527.5m, also a new record, with pre-tax profits before exceptional items coming in 5.6% ahead at �77.2m.

Growth was led by the group’s retail business, consisting of directly managed pubs and restaurants, including the Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne chains, which saw a 4% increase like-for-like sales, including 16% growth in food, and a 10% rise in operating profit.

Greene King said it planned to increase its managed estate from around 950 properties at present to 1,100 over the next three years, creating around 3,000 jobs in the process.

The group’s leased and tenanted pubs division achieved a 3% increase in average earnings per pub while its brewing and brands business recorded a 2% rise in own-brewed volumes and a 4% increase in profits.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand said: “This is another record set of results for Greene King, delivering strong sales, profit and earnings growth in a difficult consumer environment.

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He added: “Falling consumer confidence and the weakening of the UK economic recovery suggest that we will face another tough trading environment in 2012.

“Despite this, there are still significant opportunities for growth, and we believe our strategy to grow our retail estate and our share of the eating out market will help us to maintain our track record of strong earnings and dividends.”