CUSTOMERS returned to taverns operated by Spirit Pubs over Christmas, although the influx did not make up for lower-than-expected sales during October and November.
The company, which split from Punch Taverns in 2011, blamed the continuing wet weather towards the end of last year for it missing expectations, although rising food sales provided a boost.
Spirit said like-for-like sales in the 20 weeks to 5 January were up 2.3 per cent in its managed pubs, as a 3.3 per cent rise in food sales made up for relatively flat drinks revenue.
Shares fell 1.25p to 66p yesterday, with expectations of around four per cent growth not met. The firm’s leased pubs division saw like-for-like turnover fall 2.1 per cent.
“We have made a solid start to the year in what remain challenging trading conditions as our guests remain under considerable financial pressure,” Spirit’s chief executive Mike Tye said.