Belhaven owner Greene King has reported a rise in both food and beverage sales for the first four months of the year as consumer confidence improved amid warm summer weather.
Speaking at the Suffolk-based group’s annual meeting at Newbury Racecourse, chief executive Rooney Anand said the firm was beginning to see some “cautious signs of optimism” in the wider UK economy that had paved the way for a strong start to the year. “This performance has been helped by some one-off factors including the feel-good factor from continued British sporting success and the arrival of the royal baby, combined with much improved weather over the summer months,” Anand said.
Although the pace of recovery “remains uncertain”, he added that the group was looking forward to another successful year.
Greene King – which owns the Belhaven brewery in Dunbar and operates brands such as Eating Inn, Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne Restaurants – saw food sales increase as a share of the overall business amid rising demand from cost-conscious consumers.
On a like-for-like basis, revenues from food rose by 5.7 per cent during the 18 weeks to 1 September. Retail drink sales were 3.7 per cent higher, while total beer volume in the brewing business was up 1.5 per cent.Premium ale Old Speckled Hen led the way among the core brands with growth of 7.9 per cent. Additionally, the group saw an increase in accommodation revenues, which were 6 per cent higher on a like-for-like basis.
In total, Greene King has about 2,300 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK, about 1,000 of which are directly owned. Shares dipped 5.5p to 843p.