Greene King toasts festive cheer

Greene King toasts festive cheer

Pub group Greene King said record sales on Christmas Day helped it notch up strong trading over the festive period.

The Bury St Edmunds-based firm said it made revenues of £6.8m on Christmas Day, driven by food sales, with overall like-for-like sales lifting by 5% over its two-week festive period.

It added that sales of prosecco by volume jumped by 69%, premium gin sales lifted by 77% and on New Year's Eve a record 4,447 drinks per minute were sold in the last hour of 2015.

Overall, the firm - which completed a £774m takeover of rival Spirit in June - said like-for-like sales rose by 2.2% in the 40 weeks to February 7, adding that its merger integration programme was "progressing well". Shares rose by more than 3%.

The group, which owns around 3,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels under such brands as Farmhouse Inns and Flame Grill, said it had seen an "encouraging performance" from rebranded Spirit outlets.

It added that despite the "current global economic uncertainty" its full-year expectations were unchanged.

Analysts at N+1 Singer expect adjusted annual pre-tax profit at Greene King to jump 42% to £238.5m, boosted by the Spirit acquisition.

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."

Mr Anand added: "I am pleased to report continued progress with the Spirit integration, including encouraging signs from our rebranded trial sites."

The group, which was founded in 1799, added it sold 33 pubs during the year.

It also owns beers such as Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen, and said brewing volumes lifted by 3.9% over the 40-week period.

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said: "Greene King has released a reassuring update with management's full year expectations remaining unchanged."