Greene King enjoys happy Christmas amid surge in beer sales in China

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Greene King has said it achieved a strong performance in the last ten months helped by buoyant sales in the festive period and a surge in demand for its beer in China.

The company, which owns Belhaven in Scotland, rang up a record £6.8m retail sales on Christmas Day when many people chose to eat in its pubs.

Sales volumes for Prosecco increased by 69 per cent over the festive period.

In an update on trading in the 40 weeks to 7 February, chief executive Rooney Anand said all divisions did well during the important festive period.

In the two Christmas weeks Greene King grew pub and restaurant sales by 5 per cent on a like for like basis, stripping out the effect of changes in the estate.

The Spirit Pub Company, which it acquired in June, grew like for like sales 5.2 per cent.

The company said sales of its Greene King India Pale Ale had been helped by a “popularity surge” in China.

Sales of the beers the group brews rose 3.9 per cent in total on a volume basis in the 40 weeks to 7 February.

Mr Anand said the integration of Spirit was progressing well with the company reporting encouraging signs from rebranded trial sites. Greene King has made continued progress in terms of delivering the synergies it expected to achieve through the £774m deal.

The enlarged group operates around 3,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels including 300 in Scotland. Brands include Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill.

Greene King grew like for like pub and restaurant retail sales by 2.2 per cent in the 40 weeks to 7 February.

Sales in pubs managed by Spirit increased 1.1 per cent on a like for like basis.

The group said its expectations for the full year are unchanged despite the current global economic uncertainty.

Greene King did not provide an update on trading in Scotland.

In September the company said the reduction of the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland in 2014 was still having an effect on trade.

It said sales growth was depressed by the change in the law in the first 18 weeks of the financial year.

Like for like sales in the retail business grew by 1.3 per cent over the period. Sales grew 1.8 per cent when the effects of the change in regulations were stripped out.