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Bury St Edmunds: Greene King reports strong trading for the festive period after a record-breaking Christmas Day

PUBLISHED: 11:19 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:08 13 January 2014

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King

ADAM SMYTH PHOTOGRAPER

Pubs and brewing group Greene King today reported “very strong” trading over the festive period, with its pubs serving up a record 62,000 meals on Christmas Day.

Greene King’s key retail pubs division saw like-for-like (LFL) sales grow by 5.0% in the six weeks to January 5, taking the increase for the 36 weeks of the company’s financial year so far to 3.8%.

In an interim management statement, the Bury St Edmunds-based group added that average earnings per pub in its leased, tenanted and franchised division were up 5.6% while core own-brewed volumes within its brewing division were 5.8% higher for the year-to-date and 20% up over the last six weeks.

Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “Trading over the important Christmas and New Year period has been very strong with all of our businesses performing well, driven by the strength of our seasonal offers and our continued focus on delivering industry-leading value, service and quality to our customers.

“Our teams have excelled this festive period, particularly in terms of delivering great customer experiences, and this has helped us deliver record-breaking achievements.

“Retail LFL sales over the two most important trading weeks of the year were up over 6% and we sold a record 62,000 meals on Christmas Day.

“This drove record retail sales on Christmas Day of £3.1m, up over 12% on the previous year. New Year’s Eve was also very strong with retail sales up 10% to £4.5m.”

Total sales within the retail division, the largest and fastest-growing part of the group, were up 8.2% after 36 weeks. Over the last six weeks, food increased its share of the sales mix with LFL growth of 5.8% with room LFL sales up 12.5% and drink LFL sales up 3.9%.

In addition to the continued strong underlying growth, Greene King has also now added a net 28 new sites to its retail estate in the year-to-date and, with the division’s retail margin remaining strong, it now expects its results for the full year to be slightly ahead of last year.

Greene King said that the disposal programme within its leased, tenanted and franchised pubs business was on track with 81 non-core sites sold in the year-to-date.

The performance of the brewing business was driven by a strong sales in the take-home market, with Old Speckled Hen, the UK’s leading premium ale brand, up by more than 15% in the year-to-date, it added.

Looking ahead, Mr Anand said: “Overall, our expectations for profit, cashflow and our balance sheet are unchanged and we remain confident that we will continue to provide growth in earnings and dividends, and improving returns, to our shareholders.

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