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Thu 25th Jan 2018 - Trading updates: Greene King, Restaurant Group and Fuller’s
Greene King reports like-for-likes up 1.6% over two weeks of Christmas: Greene King has reported a strong festive trading period with like-for-like sales up 1.6%. The company stated: “We traded well over the Christmas period with Pub Company like-for-like sales growth of 1.6% for the two weeks covering Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in line with the market and against a strong period last year. Excluding the snow impact, like-for-like sales would have been up 3.4%. We achieved another record breaking Christmas Day in Pub Company with sales of £7.6m, up 2.6% on last year, and 154k meals sold. Either side of the two Christmas weeks sales were slower, reflecting the tough underlying trading environment and additional snow impact. Pub Company like-for-like sales for the first 37 weeks of the year were -1.4%. Drink and room like-for-like sales were ahead of last year while food like-for-like sales remained behind last year. Pub Partners like-for-like net profit for the first 36 weeks of the year was up 0.2% while Brewing & Brands own-brewed volume was -0.9% for the first 37 weeks, against a weak ale market down 3.0%. We remain on track to deliver targeted cost savings of £40-45m this year and our brand optimisation programme continues to deliver attractive returns of 25%. Both our new build and disposal programmes are also on track with six new sites opened and 40 disposals completed in the year-to-date. Our additional investment to enhance the customer experience, including being more competitive on price, having more team members available at key trading times and strengthening local marketing activity, will help to improve our competitiveness and relative trading performance. Greene King has industry-leading brands, a strong and flexible balance sheet, and a sustainable dividend, leaving us well placed given the challenging market conditions.”

Restaurant Group reports like-for-like sales down 3% in 2017, Greene King finance director Kirk Davis to join: The Restaurant Group has reported like-for-like sales for the 52 weeks ended 31 December 2017 were down 3.0%, with total sales decreasing by 1.8%. The company stated: “We expect to deliver an adjusted PBT outcome for the 2017 full year in line with current market expectations. Despite the challenging market in 2017, we continue to make good progress against the four key elements of our strategy: re-establish competitiveness of our Leisure brands. Our investments in price, food quality and marketing during 2017 drove progressively improved volume momentum in our Leisure business through the year. Our expectations around our 2018 sales trajectory remain broadly unchanged and reflect both our improving volume momentum and the significant price investments made in the middle of last year, albeit set against the backdrop of a market that has softened; serve our customers better and more efficiently. Our initiatives to enhance our guest experience, improve effectiveness of labour scheduling and deployment, and exploit new technologies are on track; grow our Pubs and Concessions businesses. Both businesses performed well through the course of the year and the pipeline of new site opportunities continues to grow; build a leaner, faster and more focused organisation. The business is fundamentally leaner, operating increasingly faster and focused on a clear plan, enabled by an enhanced senior leadership team. Kirk Davis will join the business as chief financial officer on 5 February. The group’s balance sheet remains strong and continues to benefit from good cash generation from our operations. We will provide a more detailed update on our progress against our strategy at our preliminary results.” Andy McCue, chief executive, added: “In 2017 we made solid progress against our strategic initiatives, resulting in improved volume momentum in our Leisure business, a lower cost base and a more focused growth plan. While the market has softened, we continue to benefit from strong cash generation and a healthy balance sheet.” 

Fuller’s reports like-for-like sales rose 3% in first 42 weeks: Fuller’s, the London brewer and premium pub company, has published its trading update for the 42 weeks to 20 January 2018. It stated: “The company has delivered a solid performance over the period, with like for like sales in its Managed Pubs and Hotels rising 3.0%, like for like profits in Tenanted Inns rising 2% and level total beer and cider volumes in The Fuller’s Beer Company. The additional (53rd) week in our previous financial year has moved the comparative period by one week in the calendar. For much of the year this has little effect, but it does impact reporting spanning the festive season and early January. Adjusting for this to align calendar dates, our like-for-like sales growth would have been +3.6% after week 33 and +3.4% after week 42.” Simon Emeny, chief executive, said: “These are a good set of figures in what remains a challenging trading environment. They prove that a great experience in a stunning pub with excellent service, delicious food and a fantastic range of interesting drinks, continues to appeal to our customers. Our long-term vision and prudent financing keep us well-placed to maintain our strategy of investing in our pubs, our portfolio of premium beer and cider brands, our people and our marketing. We will next update the market on 8 June 2018, when we announce the company’s full year results for the 52 weeks to 31 March 2018.”

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