Greene King raises its glass to strong trading
Suffolk-based brewer and pub company Greene King has posted an encouraging trading statement stating that its UK investment in the leisure industry is performing in line with expectations.
In the 36 weeks to 7th January like-for-like sales were up 3.4%, although its Scottish outlets, the 300-strong Belhaven pub chain, saw a decline of 2.8% over the period. However, a company spokesperson said that this was “above our estimates at the time of acquisition”.
“This has been the first winter of the Scottish pub smoking ban and Greene King through its Belhaven brand has come through better than anticipated in Scotland,” said a City leisure analyst.
“The company as a whole has performed strongly and it will be very interesting to see what happens here – and in other pub groups – when the English pub smoking ban comes into force in July. Some people feel it will cut trade badly, and affect UK investment in the sector, while others say it will actually improve business.”
He continued: “The experience in Ireland shows that some pubs have suffered loss of trade while others have powered ahead, so the jury’s out at the moment. We will be able to offer a better analysis this time next year.”
Other brands in the company’s portfolio include Hungry Horse and Old English Inns, while the absorption of Nottinghamshire-based Hardys & Hansons, bought last September, is now complete.