Healthy food options boost Greene King profits


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The Independent Online

The addition of lower calorie dishes and takeaway options helped drive Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne Restaurants chain Greene King to record profits today.

Food sales rose 17% in the year to April 29 as initiatives such as adding takeaway cake and serving jacket potatoes as an alternative to chips drove a 4% rise in covers.

This helped the Bury St Edmunds based group, which operates 2,334 pubs restaurants and hotels, grow its share of the eating out market, which has become increasingly important to the pub trade since the introduction of the smoking ban.

The firm, which also runs Old English Inns and employs 22,000 people, reported an 8.6% rise in underlying profits to £152 million, as consumers continued to look for "everyday treats" despite the economic gloom.

Trading improved in the past eight weeks, with like-for-like sales up 7% compared to 4% in the previous 12 months, although this included a boost from the Diamond Jubilee and the Euro 2012 football championships.

Chief executive Rooney Anand said the Olympics could provide a further hike to sales but was cautious about the coming year.

He added: "Looking further ahead, our customers' spending will continue to be squeezed and concerns remain about job security.

"Our strategy is tailored for these difficult conditions as we focus on providing 'everyday treats' to our customers."