Beast from East hits pubs’ sales across Lancashire

The Number 3 in Blackpool is part of Greene King
The Number 3 in Blackpool is part of Greene King
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Pub group Greene King, which operates pubs across Lancashire, has seen sales slump after the so-called “Beast from the East” hit trading.

But the firm remains on track to meet full year profit expectations.

The company said that like-for-like sales in the 49 weeks to April 8 fell 1.8 per cent , with the last three months impacted by the poor weather, particularly at its food-led pubs.

Greene King – which operates pubs including the Lane Ends at Preston and the War Horse at Chorley, and the Number Three and the Counting House at Blackpool – has previously also blamed falling consumer confidence, rising costs and intense competition for flagging sales.

Last year the pub chain outlined a raft of challenges affecting the pub and brewing industry over the next few years, which it said were set to “intensify” amid weakened consumer confidence caused by surging inflation.

However, Greene King said that strong trading over Easter mitigated the impact, with comparable sales up 2.8 per cent over the long weekend, helped by sporting events including football and boxing.

Drink and accommodation sales were ahead of last year on a like-for-like basis and it confirmed that full year pre-tax profit would be in line with expectations, within the range of £240million to £245million.

The firm also said that it was on track to deliver cost savings of £40m to £45m and garner £120m from the proceeds of disposals such as the sale of three high-value leasehold pubs.

Shares were up more than eight per cent yesterday to 504 in morning trading following the news.

Greg Johnson, travel and leisure analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Encouragingly, the statement highlights the £10million of targeted investment is gaining traction and the repositioning of the estate continues with the exit of Fayre & Square by the end of the financial year and continued investment in the estate. Against tough comps Greene King appears to be seeing an improvement in trading and closing the underperformance with the wider market.”