Belhaven’s owner toasts bumper Easter food sales

GREENE King, the Suffolk-based beer maker and pub operator that owns the Belhaven brewery in Dunbar, enjoyed a bumper Easter, with like-for-like food sales rising by 7.1 per cent over the holiday weekend.

In yesterday’s trading update ahead of its full-year results, the group said that the Easter surge had helped like-for-like food sales for the 51 weeks to 21 April to rise by 2.7 per cent.

It added that it had increased its retail profit margin following “strong labour productivity improvements and a tight control of our costs”.

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Greene King added: “Despite the impact on trading and profitability caused by the extreme weather conditions in the second half of the year, we expect to meet external full-year expectations for profit, cashflow and balance sheet.”

Greg Johnson, an equities analyst at Shore Capital, retained his “buy” rating on the stock.

“The fact Greene King has maintained guidance and improved margins in the retail estate despite the recent poor weather is further evidence of the benefit of a well invested food-led estate,” Johnson said.

Greene King said that volumes of its “core” own-brand beers had risen by 0.8 per cent, compared with a drop for the wider ale market of 3.8 per cent, with national television advertising for its India Pale Ale and Old Speckled Hen brands.