Strong food sales at pub operator Spirit Group helped push like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter up 3.9% year-on-year.
Spirit's leading food concepts Chef & Brewer and Two For One, a simplified supply chain and some menu rationalisation, helped main meals sold increase 12.7% (or 20.1% if two for one deals are included) at the group.
Overall, like-for-like food sales growth was 7.7% in the quarter, with drink sales up 2.8% on a like-for-like basis.
Company chief executive Karen Jones said: "These are strong results which derive from the success of our trading strategy following the re-shaping of our business over the past 20 months. We are delighted with the growth in food throughout Spirit."
The total number of pubs managed by Spirit Group is 1,832 after the sale of 178 city-centre pubs to Tattershall Castle Group last month.
Spirit remains the centre of industry speculation over its future with a number of bidders circling the company and the pub company's management team still eyeing up a stock market listing.
Macquarie Bank of Australia is the latest name to be linked with a bid for the privately held company, joining pub company's Punch Taverns and Mitchells & Butlers as well as Laurel Pub Company owner Robert Tchenguiz and former banker Robin Saunders.
By Kerstin Kuhn
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