New Year cold snap puts freeze on sales at pub operator Spirit

SPIRIT Pub Company said yesterday that the icy weather and snow in January and February had hit sales at the start of 2013.

However, the group said selling off 20 underperforming pubs since the start of the year meant it was on track to deliver full-year expectations.

Spirit, which split from debt-laden Punch Taverns in 2011, said like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to 2 March fell 1.1 per cent in its self-managed pubs division.

The firm’s leased pubs business, which rents Spirit properties to landlords, saw like-for-like revenue fall 2.7 per cent in the period.

“Recent trading has been impacted by adverse weather conditions,” chief executive Mike Tye said, adding that “the consumer environment [remains] challenging.”

Spirit, which owns over 1,200 pubs including the Chef & Brewer and Wacky Warehouse chains, said it had invested in 50 new pubs in the year to date.

“We are redoubling our efforts to improve the retail offer in all areas of our business to give our guests more compelling reasons to visit our pubs,” said Tye.