GREENE King, the pub owner and brewer, yesterday reported higher half-year profits, after benefiting from an upturn in trading as consumers continued to eat out in their local pubs.
The 212-year-old firm, which runs 2,410 pubs and restaurants including the Loch Fyne seafood chain, said the consumer environment remained tough, with cost inflation rising ahead of wage inflation and the squeeze in discretionary spending.
Nevertheless, chief executive Roony Anand said that the drinking out and eating out markets are performing well, delivering an “everyday indulgence” to the UK consumer.
Pre-tax profits before exceptional items rose by 5.6 per cent to £77.2m in the half year to 16 October, joining its rivals Marston’s and Fuller Smith who have also posted rise in profits.
Drink sales rose by 9.9 per cent, while food sales rose 16.3 per cent.
Greene King’s brewing division, which makes Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Belhaven Best, grew operating profits by 4.5 per cent to £15.6m.
The company plans to boost its managed pub estate and create 3,000 jobs in Britain over the next three years, including 2,000 apprenticeships.
Anand warned of a tough year ahead as consumer spending remains squeezed but reassured that current trading remained strong, with Christmas bookings up by around 12 per cent.