Like Marston’s earlier this week, Greene King enjoyed record sales on Christmas Day, but over the festive period trading was hit as snowy weather set in. Particularly hard hit, were difficult to drive to, out-of-town sites.
Greene King said managed pub like-for-like sales rose 1.6% over the two weeks covering Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which would have been a 3.4% rise but for the impact of heavy snow.
It hailed record-breaking trade on Christmas Day, with sales of £7.6m, up 2.6% on 2016 with 154,000 meals sold.
However, Greene King, which owns the Hungry Horse and Chef & Brewer brands, said sales either side of the festive season slowed, “reflecting the tough underlying trading environment and additional snow impact”.
Like-for-like sales fell 1.4% across its managed pubs in the first 37 weeks of its financial year, with food sales acting as the biggest drag.
Its leased pub chain posted a 0.2% rise in net profits over the period, while its brewing arm – behind tipples such as Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale – saw sales by volume fall 0.9%.
Greene King said: “Our additional investment to enhance the customer experience, including being more competitive on price, having more team members available at key trading times and strengthening local marketing activity, will help to improve our competitiveness and relative trading performance.”
City analysts Liberum said that importantly the dividend was described by Greene King as ‘sustainable’ and that given the balance sheet strength, the broker was reiterating a 'buy' rating and target price of 690p.
In mid-morning trading Greene King shares had fallen 1.42% to 523.10.