Christmas cheer raises spirits at Greene King

RECORD numbers of people flocked to Greene King pubs over Christmas as the company ramped up efforts to bring in festive diners.

The pub owner and brewer revealed yesterday that like-for-like trading in its establishments was up 2.8 per cent in the six weeks to 6 January, while pub sales were up 6.8 per cent on Christmas Day to £2.7m.

“We have continually made sure we are getting ready and improving our offering [for Christmas] and this has clearly borne fruit,” Greene King’s chief executive Rooney Anand told City A.M., revealing that the company sold 56 tonnes of turkey and 42 tonnes of Brussels sprouts during the festive period.

Many pub chains have focused on improving their dining experiences to take advantage of customers who can no longer afford to eat at restaurants regularly. This has paid off for Greene King, which yesterday said like-for-like food sales were up 4.1 per cent in the 36 weeks to 6 January.

“I think the fact we have grown our business is a sign that decent pubs can be a welcome relief from the doom and gloom,” Anand, who is entering his ninth year as Greene King boss, said.

However, the chief executive was cautious about growth in 2013, saying he does not expect conditions to improve for consumers.

Greene King, which runs chains including Hungry Horse and Old English Inns, saw shares edge up slightly yesterday.