Drinks cause problems for Greenall Group

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The Independent Online
A MIXED report on trading at Greenall Group's annual meeting yesterday knocked 5p off the company's shares to 455p, writes John Shepherd.

Andrew Thomas, chairman and chief executive, told shareholders that pubs and hotels did well over Christmas but off-licences and the drinks and leisure division had problems.

'Off-licences are experiencing tough competition from grocery multiples and cross- channel trading. These problems were being addressed with new pricing policies and the reclassification of outlets.

'Current trading is disappointing in drinks and leisure, due mainly to a poor performance from Cambrian Soft Drinks,' he said. However, he added: 'The Christmas trading period . . . was better than anticipated.

'Greenalls Inns, our pub division, continues to make good progress with food sales growing strongly. Christmas trading was up on the previous year and has continued positively through January.'

De Vere Hotels had a successful Christmas, and a better-than-expected January.

Alan Rothwell, finance director, added: 'The bottom line is that it is steady as she goes.'

Peter Clarke and Alan Whitehead, executive directors, will retire this year on reaching 60.