Greene King PLC - Christmas Trading Update

After 36 weeks of our financial year, Pub Company like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 3.2% following strong trading over the Christmas period as we continue to trade ahead of the market1. LFL sales in the last two weeks, covering Christmas and the New Year, were up 10.9% and we achieved record Christmas day sales of £7.7m. All sales categories saw LFL sales growth over the last six weeks with our Greene King branded Local Pubs driving strong drink sales growth. Last year's additional investment in Value, Service and Quality continues to underpin our performance.        

Pub Partners LFL net profit was down approximately 1% while total beer volumes in Brewing & Brands were up 1.8% and own-brewed volumes were down 2.3%.

Our cost mitigation programme is on track to limit net cost inflation to £10-20m in the year while we made further progress on our estate optimisation programme, remaining on course to dispose of 100-110 pubs and open around nine new pubs in the financial year.

Following the announcement in December of an open tender process on the remaining Spirit bonds, as part of our ongoing debt refinancing programme, we have bought back £62m of the Spirit A5 bonds to date.

While the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit may still have an impact on consumer confidence and spending during the year, we remain confident of our outlook for the financial year. We remain focused on our strategic priorities of driving profitable sales growth, developing a more streamlined and efficient organisation, and further strengthening and improving the flexibility of our capital structure to deliver long-term value for our shareholders. 

·      Greene King was founded in 1799 and is headquartered in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. It currently employs around 39,000 people across its main trading businesses; Pub Company, Pub Partners and Brewing & Brands.

·      At the half-year, Greene King operated 2,798 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Wales and Scotland, of which 1,714 were retail pubs, restaurants and hotels, and 1,084 were tenanted, leased and franchised pubs. Its leading retail brands are Greene King, Chef & Brewer, Farmhouse Inns and Hungry Horse.

·      Greene King also brews quality ale brands from its Bury St. Edmunds and Dunbar breweries. Its industry-leading portfolio includes Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Belhaven Best.