Greene King said it defied the poor weather this summer to deliver a 7.1% increase in pre-tax profits.
Despite wet weather – which Greene King said also dampened big events such as the Diamond Jubilee - the brewer and pub company’s interim results for the 24 weeks to 14 October 2012 showed a 7.3% year-on-year increase in overall sales to £566.2m.
“We have achieved this strong result in the context of challenging economic conditions, a difficult regulatory environment and prudent and judicious consumers,” said CEO Rooney Anand.
Its brewing performance was less impressive, with sales in its brewing and brands division £84.9m, up 2.2% on last year, although operating profits fell 13.5% to £14.1m. Its share of the UK ale market, however, rose 50 basis points to 9.9%. Old Speckled Hen grew 5.9% in a premium ale market up 1.8%, said the brewer, while Greene King IPA grew 2.2%.
Greene King added that the regulatory environment – including the duty escalator, machine gaming tax and further red tape - remained a challenge for the pub and beer sectors, but added that it supported the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol.
“We believe it is a well-targeted measure for helping to reduce irresponsible retailing and consumption of alcohol,” said Anand. “Supermarkets and convenience stores continue to sell alcohol at below cost price, protected by their ability to cross subsidise alcohol losses and their tax advantages over pubs and clubs.
“In our view, any well considered measure, like MUP, that could reduce the negative impact of alcohol on society, should be supported by responsible producers and retailers of alcohol.”