Spirit lifts sales but Punch still struggling

 
City A.M. Reporter
Spirit Pub Company reported strong sales growth in the fourth quarter and said it was on track to meet full-year expectations as it gave its first trading update since demerging from Punch Taverns in August.

The company, which owns around 900 pubs that it manages directly, said on Thursday sales at pubs open more than a year grew 3.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, slower than the 5.2 per cent growth seen over the year as a whole.

That reflected a tough comparative in the fourth quarter because of last year's football World Cup.

Food sales grew 7.9 per cent in the fourth quarter with sales of drinks up 1.2 per cent.

Spirit was demerged from Punch Taverns, which operates over 5,000 tenanted pubs which have struggled throughout the economic downturn.

Managed pubs have fared better than tenanted pubs in the face of touch economic conditions as they generally have more flexibility on pricing and promotional activity.

Punch Taverns, which has grappled with net debt of around £2.5bn, said that net income at pubs open more than a year fell five per cent in the fourth quarter and were 5.2 per cent lower over the year as a whole.