Good news for Greene King

PUBS and brewing group Greene King is raising a glass to buoyant beer sales as it told shareholders that it remained on course to achieve its target for annual profits.

PUBS and brewing group Greene King is raising a glass to buoyant beer sales as it told shareholders that it remained on course to achieve its target for annual profits.

In an update at its annual general meeting yesterday, the Bury St Edmunds-based company said that trading remained in line with expectations despite the unseasonal summer weather and the start of the English smoking ban.

Greene King said that it had implemented the No Smoking law across its business successfully and “remains very well placed to meet the challenges, and to capitalize on the opportunities, presented by the ban.”

The arrival of the smoke-free pub is expected to see an increased demand for food and Greene King has already responded to the ban by acquiring the Loch Fyne fish restaurant chain, in a £68.1million deal completed last month.

Greene King, which plans to double the size of the chain to around 70 outlets, including the conversion of some of its pubs, said yesterday that it had already opened one new Loch Fyne - in Edinburgh - since taking control, bringing the current total number of restaurants to 37.

Yesterday's statement added that both parts of the group's managed pubs estate - “destination” pubs, focused heavily on food, and “local” pubs, serving a more traditional pub clientele - achieved like-for-like sales “slightly ahead” of last year during the first 17 weeks of the current year.

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