BARS and brewing group Greene King, whose brands include Belhaven Best, has hit out at the proposal for a statutory code governing links between pub companies and tenanted landlords as unnecessary “strong-arming” of the industry.
Rooney Anand, chief executive, unveiling a 6 per cent rise in full-year underlying pre-tax profits to £162 million, said it was too early to change the legally-binding, self-regulatory code just two years after it was set up.
“We have been running tenanted pubs for a couple of hundred years,” he said. “We talk to our licensees. Two years is too premature for the government to change the goalposts and strong-arm the industry into a statutory code.”
His comments came as Greene King shrugged off slowing trade in the second half of its trading year to 28 April partly triggered by the cold, wet winter.
The group, which has more than 2,200 pubs, about 300 of them in Scotland including Edinburgh’s World’s End, saw like-for-like sales at its managed outlets, which include Hungry Horse, rise 2.3 per cent. Earnings rose 10 per cent to £212.3m.
It was less positive at the tenanted business, with profits down 5.7 per cent to £68m, while brewing profits were off 9 per cent at £30m, partly due to rising supplier costs. The company’s other brands include Abbot Ale.
Anand said Green King’s continuing resilience came despite the group “not assuming a pick-up in the economy”. The total dividend rises by 7 per cent to 26.6p from 24.8p, courtesy of a final payment of 19.45p.