Brewer and pub operator Greene King has seen half-year profits slump by almost £11m as the drop in consumer spending combined with increasing running costs created "one of the toughest trading periods for many years".
The group, which operates 2,500 pubs in England and Scotland as well as the fish restaurant chain Loch Fyne, said pre-tax profits for the 24 weeks to 19 October were £60.7m (2007: £71.6m).
Chief executive Rooney Anand blamed weakening consumer confidence and cheap off-trade alcohol, which has encouraged customers to stay at home.
Meanwhile, higher costs, including fuel, energy and the raw materials needed for brewing beer, had placed the group's profit margins under "severe strain", he added.
"I believe the environment will become even more challenging in the near-term as we are yet to see the full impact on discretionary spend of rising unemployment, increasing negative housing equity and continued high consumer debt levels," Anand said.
By Daniel Thomas
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