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Sales up 1.9% at Suffolk pubs and brewing giant to more than £1bn as it performs ‘ahead of market’

PUBLISHED: 08:03 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:03 29 November 2018

Greene King beers, brewed in Bury St Edmunds. Turnover has risen for the group  Picture: GREENE KING

Greene King beers, brewed in Bury St Edmunds. Turnover has risen for the group Picture: GREENE KING

Greene King

A major brewing and pubs group based in Suffolk says it is outperforming the market as it enjoyed a boost from the summer heatwave and World Cup.

The Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds  Picture: GREENE KINGThe Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREENE KING

Greene King, at Bury St Edmunds, said Brexit may have an impact on consumer sentiment but it remained confident for its outlook for the full year as it announced its half-year results.

Overall group revenue was up 1.9% at £1,051.2m, and (adjusted) profit before tax up 0.2% to £128.2m in the six month period up to October 14.

The pub company’s like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 2.7%, ahead of the market at 1.1%. This was helped by a boost from the good weather and the World Cup, but also by a strategic focus on the group’s four brands and investment in measures to improve the customer experience, it said. Brewing and brands revenue was up 7.5%, and the company remains ‘on track’ to limit the full year net cost of inflation to £10-20m.

Chief executive Rooney Anand, who has announced that he will be stepping down at the end of the group’s financial year, on April 30, 2019, after 14 years in the role, said there was “continued positive momentum” in the pub company, sustained beyond the boost of the World Cup and the summer weather.

Rooney Anand of Greene King  Picture: GREENE KINGRooney Anand of Greene King Picture: GREENE KING

“The hard work of our teams, combined with the investments we made to improve our customer experience, is driving sales outperformance to the market,” he said.

“We remain highly cash generative, meeting our debt repayment requirements, investing in our pubs and paying an attractive, sustainable dividend out of operating free cashflow.”

“Good progress” was made in refinancing a debenture - or long-term loan agreement - at Spirit, a pub company in Burton upon Trent which was acquired by Greene King in 2015 for £774m. This had resulted in a yearly cash saving of around £13m, reducing the cost of the group’s debt, and increasing the strength of its balance sheet, he said.

Looking forward, Christmas bookings were up on last year, he said.

“Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit may impact on consumer confidence, but as a team we are focused on our key strategic priorities and remain confident of our outlook for the financial year,” he said.

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