This summer proved a difficult one for beer sales at both the companies created last month by the demerger of Punch Taverns. But Spirit Pub Company, the managed business with brands including Chef & Brewer and Fayre & Square, mitigated those problems with its food sales.
Spirit saw like-for-like revenues from food grow by 7.9 per cent in the three months to mid-August, an acceleration from earlier in the year. But same-store drink sales rose just 1.2 per cent in the quarter and 4 per cent in the year to date, pulling back group-wide revenue growth.
Still, Spirit posted full-year organic sales growth of 5.2 per cent, against a decline in like-for-like sales of a similar amount at Spirit’s former sister company, Punch.
Punch owns the bulk of the tenanted and leased pubs collected under the Punch name over the course of a dozen years, and is struggling to turn round performance at the estate while paying down billions of pounds of debt.
In the tenanted and leased business model, the parent company earns money from rent and beer sales, meaning Punch benefited only indirectly from the food consumed at its tenanted pubs. In its “core” estate of 3,000 venues, net income fell 2.4 per cent over the summer.
“We knew Q4 would be impacted by the World Cup last year,” said Roger Whiteside, chief executive. “If you take the spring, when you had the Royal wedding, which was very good for us, and Q4, the underlying trend you get to is about minus 1 per cent for the core estate.”
Ian Dyson, Spirit’s chief executive, said the split from Punch had not pushed up operating costs and was helping attract new talent. The group still lacks a permanent replacement for Roddy Murray, however, who unexpectedly resigned as finance director two weeks after starting the job.
Spirit’s figures were brought to earth by its own tenanted and leased pubs; it kept about 550 in the demerger, and their performance has been little better than that of those across the Punch estate, delivering like-for-like income declines of 4.1 per cent.
The plan to convert about 100 of those pubs to the managed model has begun, with one being run on a “tenancy at will” agreement becoming a Fayre & Square and another converted to a Flaming Grill.
A further 20 to 25 conversions are planned for the coming year.
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