UK

Greene King Celebrates Hosting 448,000 Christmas Lunches, But Warns 2013 Will Be Tough

14/01/2013 08:47 GMT | Updated 14/01/2013 09:43 GMT

Festive spirits were clearly on the menu for pub group Greene King after it reported record Christmas bookings and strong like-for-like sales across the Christmas season.

On Christmas Day itself, the pub chain posted record sales of £2.7 million, with 448,000 Christmas meals sold across the whole of December.

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King, said in a statement that pubs continued to play a vital role for customers, families and communities across the UK during the festive period, even in this difficult financial environment.

He also praised his staff for providing "excellent value, service and quality to our customers".

Despite the record Christmas sales, Anand didn't believe conditions would improve in 2013.

"While this presents ongoing challenges for all consumer-facing businesses, we are confident that our strategy, tailored to the prevailing conditions, and our consistent focus on providing excellent value, service and quality to our customers, will continue to deliver sustainable earnings and dividend growth to our shareholders," he said.

Nick Hood, business analyst at Company Watch told the Huffington Post UK Greene King had done well in a sector that is typically heavily exposed to value-conscious consumers and their shrinking disposable income.

"All parts of the business have traded well, especially the core own-brewed ale sector, which has beaten the overall market's performance," he added.

"In its retail division, the increase in food spend will have benefited margins. The good progress on shedding underperforming sites will make Greene King a leaner and fitter pub operator, as it swaps these for fewer, but better, prime locations."