Greene King welcomes the clampdown on cheap booze

Rooney Anand, the boss of Greene King, has come out strongly in favour of minimum pricing for alcohol, claiming cheap supermarket booze is killing the pubs trade.

The chief executive of the brewer and pubs operator, around since 1799, said: "I would like to see the Government stick to its guns on this. We've been in business 213 years and would like to be in business for another 213.

"I don't like the way alcohol is being demonised by binge drinkers. That happens because it is being sold at pocket-money prices." He was talking as the maker of Old Speckled Hen unveiled a 7 per cent rise in sales for the half year to £566m. Profits are also up 7 per cent to £82.7m, allowing for a 6.7 per cent rise in the interim dividend to 7.15p.

Mr Anand said that for many a trip to the pub has become part of how they deal with tough times.

"The economic backdrop doesn't get any better," he said. "The customer response to that is controlled coping. A visit to the pub is an important everyday treat. Spend on big-ticket items is down, but people still want to go to the pub after work."

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