In its latest preliminary results statement, the Suffolk-based brewer and operator revealed a 2.9% increase in like-for-like sales over the 52-week period – a figure attributed in part to last summer’s World Cup and heatwave.
However, after reporting Easter like-for-like volume sales being 4.6% up against the 2018 Easter weekend, the pubco’s statement explained that trading over the first eight weeks of the new year has been hampered by inclement weather.
Additionally, it was reported that Greene King Brewing Brands registered a 5.8% increase in year-on-year revenue, with the brewer and operator maintaining a 15.2% year-on-year operating margin.
However, while revenue hit £2.2bn after 1.8% growth, the FTSE 250 pub operator saw its pre-tax profits fall by 12.5% to £172.8m – down from approximately £197m.
The operator behind approximately 2,700 UK sites added that while continued debt refinancing from its £744 deal to buy Spirit pubs in 2015 had hindered performance in the first half of 2018, further progress had been made on this front since the start of the new fiscal year.
By the end of the 52-week period, Greene King stated that it had repaid £393m or 51% of the Spirit debenture.
Trading momentum regained
Discussing the latest figures, Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie, who took over from Rooney Anand after joining the pub company from Merlin Entertainments in May, explained: “Greene King is a great business with a rich heritage, a high-quality estate, a strong portfolio of brands and 38,000 talented team members.
“Just two months into the job, I have been struck by the amazing pride and passion that our team members have for Greene King and I want to thank them for their continued dedication to providing great experiences for our customers and supporting local communities.
“The business delivered good results last year, regaining trading momentum in Pub Company and returning to market outperformance while fulfilling a strong cost mitigation programme and making further progress refinancing the Spirit debenture.
“The existing strategy we have in place has led the business through challenging times. I am looking forward to building on Greene King’s strong foundations with a focus on innovation, on developing our people and on customer service to further enhance our brands and deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders.”