Bumper Easter at Greene King as chief executive departs

Greene King has reported strong annual sales growth as the pub company bids adieu to its longstanding chief executive Rooney Anand.

In the 52 weeks to April 28, like-for-like sales across the owned pub estate were ahead of the market, surging by 2.9%.

The group had a particularly strong Easter weekend, with sales up 4.6% compared to the same time last year.

The company’s Chef & Brewer restaurant chain achieved a record sales increase of 15.3%.

Net income in the pub partners division was up 1.6% while like-for-like profit was down 1.4%.

In brewing and brands, which is responsible for the group’s well-known products such as Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale, total beer volumes were up 0.9%.

Own-brewed volumes were down 3.4%, though this was against a UK ale market down 4.2%.

The results come as Mr Anand steps down from the company after 14 years at the helm, to be replaced by Merlin Entertainments executive Nick Mackenzie.

Mr Anand said: “We have traded strongly this year and have returned to market outperformance.

“As I hand over to my successor Nick Mackenzie, I believe that, with our strong pub and beer brands, talented and dedicated team and high-quality estate, Greene King is well positioned to make further progress and continue outperforming the market.”

Mr Mackenzie takes up his new role on Wednesday.

Analysts at Liberum said: “While the change at the top creates some uncertainty, the underlying performance of the business is improving and the change could stimulate the investment community to reappraise the optionality within the business as the debt is refinanced and brands rationalised.”

Shares in Greene King were down 6.7% in early trading on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mr Anand has already assumed up a new post as chairman of Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group.

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