Belfast Telegraph

Beer sales fall at Greene King ahead of £2.7bn takeover

The Suffolk-based group said like-for-like sales across the business slid 1.8% for the 18 weeks to September 1.

Pub group and brewer saw first quarter sales slip on the back of falling beer volumes (PA)
Pub group and brewer saw first quarter sales slip on the back of falling beer volumes (PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Pub group and brewer Greene King has seen like-for-like sales dip in the first quarter on the back of plummeting beer sales, ahead of its £2.7 billion takeover.

The Suffolk-based group said like-for-like sales across the business slid 1.8% for the 18 weeks to September 1, as it struggled to keep up with strong figures from the same period in 2018, which were buoyed by warm weather and the men’s football World Cup.

It updated investors ahead of its annual general meeting, just weeks after it announced a deal to sell the entire business to CKA Group, the real estate group run by Hong Kong’s richest family.

The company, which was founded in 1799, said the decline in group sales was driven by “softer” beer sales across it pubs.

Like-for-like net income across its pub partners arm slid 4.2%, as beer sales failed to match the same period in 2018.

The Bury St Edmunds company saw total beer volumes in its brewing and brands division plunge 6.5% during the quarter, while its own-brand volumes dived 7.9%.

Greene King said that it has seen like-for-like sales improve more recently, rising 1.5% over the past seven weeks compared to the same period last year.

It added that the business is on track with a cost reduction programme and expects to limit net inflation to between £10 million and £20 million.

Plans to sell between 85 and 95 pubs during the year are also “on track”, it said, as it looks to secure £45 million to £55 million in proceeds to fund the opening of eight new pubs.

Greene King is the UK’s biggest pub owner, with roughly 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country.

The takeover deal secured last month offered a 51% premium on the value of shares in the brewer, which employs more than 38,000 staff, from trading on the day before the announcement.

CKA, which is chaired by Victor Li, the son of Hong Kong’s richest man, agreed the acquisition through newly formed subsidiary CK Bidco, which is based in the Cayman Islands.

The move came just seven months after fellow UK pub group Fuller’s sold its brewing business to Japanese firm Asahi.

PA

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