By Marcus Leach

Greene King brewery and pub owner have announced higher than expected half yearly profits. However, despite this they are remaining cautious of the year ahead.

Financial highlights:

- Retail like-for-like sales growth of 4% and 10% operating profit growth
- Food growth of 16%; strong sector outperformance
- Average EBITDA per pub in Pub Partners up 3%
- Brewing & Brands achieved 2% core brand own-brewed volume growth; profits up 4%
- Strong cash generation supports interim dividend growth of over 6%
- Current trading strong; Retail like-for-like sales +4% in last six weeks

“This is another record set of results for Greene King, delivering strong sales, profit and earnings growth in a difficult consumer environment," Rooney Anand, Greene King chief executive, said.

"Our largest, fastest-growing and increasingly-branded business, Retail, has achieved 10% profit growth, driven both organically and through our Retail expansion strategy. We took further share in the eating out market with 16% food sales growth in the period. Pub Partners continues to reposition itself towards a more sustainable, customer-focused model, while Brewing & Brands has achieved encouraging growth and market outperformance.

"Falling consumer confidence and the weakening of the UK economic recovery suggest that we will face another tough trading environment in 2012. Despite this, there are still significant opportunities for growth, and we believe our strategy to grow our Retail estate and our share of the eating out market will help us to maintain our track record of strong earnings and dividends.”

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