Greene King pub operator benefits from heatwave

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PUB operator Greene King is poised to toast strong summer trading after the heatwave triggered a thirst for some cooling pints.

Yet the forecast surge in sales is not expected to boost the Suffolk-based firm’s beer-making arm – which includes the Belhaven brewery in Dunbar – because drinkers usually opt for cider and lager in hot weather, rather than real ale.

Greene King – which owns chains including Eating Inn, Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne Restaurants – manages nearly 1,000 pubs throughout the UK.

The company posted a 3.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in the opening eight weeks of its current financial year and analysts are pencilling in growth of more than 5 per cent over the first quarter.

Douglas Jack, an analyst at Numis Securities, said: “We expect trading to be strong and ahead of our assumptions. We do not expect any improvement in beer volumes as good weather tends to favour lager and cider, rather than real ale.”

The group beat City forecasts with underlying pre-tax profits up 6.6 per cent to £162 million in the year to 30 April.