Monday 20 May 2019 8:22 am

High spirits: City Pub Group cheers investors with sales rise as expansion continues

City A.M’s industry and manufacturing correspondent. You can follow me on @alexmdaniel, or email:

City A.M’s industry and manufacturing correspondent. You can follow me on @alexmdaniel, or email:

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The City Pub Group shareholders will this morning be toasting a rise in sales of more than one-third so far this year.

Read more: City Pub Group shares rise as it returns to profit

The pub operator, which runs 45 sites mainly in London, said sales were up 35 per cent on last year for the 19 weeks to 12 May, and that it is still on track to run as many as 70 pubs by 2021.

Executive chairman Clive Watson sent shares frothing up in early morning trading as he proposed a dividend of 2.75p a share.

He said: “We have enjoyed continued strong momentum since the start of the year.

“We have a range of excellent and high-quality new sites that we have acquired to come on stream. We are continuing to seek further pubs in Southern England and Wales to build the estate.”

“We enjoy a strong balance sheet which enables quick and decisive decision making to purchase development sites or existing trading sites that can be improved in a softening market for acquisitions.”

Watson, who launched the business in 2012, previously ran the Capital Pub Company, which was sold to Greene King in 2011 for £93m.

City Pub Group underwent a substantial expansion in 2018, opening 11 pubs, including in London, Cardiff, Brighton and Cambridge.

Its growth comes as larger rivals like Wetherspoons and Greene King grapple with difficult trading conditions for pubs and restaurants, as wages increase and sales growth slows down in the industry.

Read more: City Pub Group sales rise amid string of acquisitions

Investors will hope for another long, hot summer like last year, which boosted profits 73 per cent in 2018.