Greene King profits rise despite tough winter for pub industry

PUB AND breweries group Greene King reported a 6.6 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday, despite the long, cold winter that kept customers away from its drinking establishments.

The company behind Hungry Horse, Old English Inns and Loch Fyne restaurants, as well as beers such as Old Speckled Hen and Abbott Ale, made a pre-tax profit of £162m for the year to 28 April, up from £152m posted last year and slightly higher than City forecasts.

Meanwhile, the firm grew like-for-like retail sales in the year leading up to April by 2.3 per cent across its real estate empire, which encompasses nearly 1,000 managed pubs.

The company said that the majority of its growth came in the first half of the year, while the second half lagged behind due to a prolonged cold and wet winter.

The pub group has recently turned its focus to food, selling 700,000 meals over the Easter bank holiday weekend alone.

“We have made a strong start to the year, but the overall outlook remains subdued and we are not assuming a pick-up in the economy,” said Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand.

The company plans to expand the number of sites in its property portfolio from 987 to 1,100 by 2015.

Shares in Greene King, which have risen more than 20 per cent since the start of the year, rose by 2.82 per cent yesterday to close at 767p.