Greene King today provided some much needed cheer for the pub industry revealing strong Christmas sales and no sign yet of the feared post-New Year slowdown.
In a trading update, the brewer and pub operator said like-for-like sales in its managed division for the past eight weeks - covering Christmas and New Year - grew by 2.4%.
Sales for the 38 weeks to January 25 fell by 1.1%, but continue to show an improvement on the near-3% drop seen earlier in the year
However, profits in the group's 1,400-strong Pub Partners leased estate fell by 5.3% in the year to date, as the division continued to suffer from falling beer sales volumes and the cost of supporting licensees.
In a statement, Greene King said: "The anticipated post-new year slowdown has not, as yet, taken place, but we remain very cautious as to trading prospects for 2009, and we anticipate that the outlook for the rest of the year will remain very challenging.
"However, Greene King is well placed to cope with a prolonged consumer downturn, particularly given the steps being taken to further strengthen each element of our business, our sound balance sheet, and the prudent and firm approach taken to cost control, cash generation and debt repayment."
By Daniel Thomas
E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next pub job here with Caterersearch.com jobs