Pub group Greene King poised to toast heatwave


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The Independent Online

It is always one of the most convivial AGMs of the year. The army of loyal small shareholders who will turn up to Newbury Racecourse for brewer and pub group Greene King’s annual general meeting tomorrow will be looking for upbeat trading news to be followed by a slap-up luncheon.

The Bury St Edmunds-based brewer runs around 2,300 pubs across the country and, with a high proportion of outlets with good beer gardens, is bound to have done well out of the improving weather in July and August.

At the time of its full-year figures, at the end of June, Greene King said sales by pubs and restaurants which it manages and have been open at least a year were up by 3.3 per cent for the first eight weeks of this year.

Analysts reckon the following  10 weeks have been even stronger, partly due to the weather and also because they compare with the 2012 Olympics when pub sales were hit by stay-at-home sports fans. That could push sales growth for the 18 weeks up to at least 5 per cent.

Indeed some watchers believe Greene King could shoot the lights out because it has recently been rejigging its pub portfolio further into London and the South East.

It may be too early for the City to increase its average forecast for profits of £171m in the year to next April. But it won’t take much for that to move upwards. In the meantime, chairman Tim Bridge and chief executive Rooney Anand can expect the normal shareholder question over whether the firm is prepared to sponsor a new bandstand in Bury St Edmunds’ Abbey Gardens.