Greene King buys seven pubs as it reports increase in profit

GREENE King, the brewer and pubs chain, has continued to weather the economic storm, reporting a three per cent rise in half-year profits.<br /><br />The firm, which brews the Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen brands, posted pre-tax profits of &pound;62.4m for the six months to 18 October.<br /><br />Like-for-like sales in its retail business were up 4.6 per cent on the same period last year thanks to strong sales of food.<br /><br />Greene King is buying seven pubs in Scotland for &pound;12.7m, using capital raised by a &pound;207.5m rights issue launched in April this year, and said further acquisitions were on the cards.<br /><br />Chief executive Rooney Anand said: &ldquo;Whilst the environment remains demanding, each one of our businesses has made substantial progress. Although the economic outlook remains uncertain, I am confident we can build on this strong first-half performance.&rdquo;<br /><br />Despite raising a note of caution about consumer spending next year, shares in the company rose nearly five per cent, closing at 420p. Nigel Parson at Evolution Securities said the brewer was being rewarded for &ldquo;steering a prudent path through the recession&rdquo;.