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Happy Easter for pub operator Greene King as beer sales surge

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(Reuters) – British pub operator Greene King Plc on Tuesday forecast annual pre-tax profit above analysts’ estimates, as demand for its brews during Christmas continued into the Easter period.

The company, which replaced its long-time boss in November, has been battling rising costs from an increase in minimum wage, higher property prices and a move away from pub drinking by younger Britons. It did, however, welcome record numbers of drinkers on Christmas Day and saw higher sales over the holiday period.

Greene King, which brews beers including Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale, said it expects annual pre-tax profit excluding items of between 244 million pounds and 247 million pounds.

The company-compiled average analysts’ consensus was 243.9 million pounds.

British consumers were unruffled by the latest twists and turns in the country’s Brexit drama and companies have dialled down their worry levels, two surveys published on Tuesday showed.

Greene King said comparable sales over the Easter weekend rose 4.6 percent, boosted in part by better weather conditions compared with last year when most of Britain was affected by a cold wave brought on by the weather system dubbed “the Beast from the East”.

Comparable sales for the company, through which it manages its chain of 2,800 pubs, restaurants and hotels, rose 2.9 percent during Easter.

“As I hand over to my successor Nick Mackenzie, I believe that, with our strong pub and beer brands … Greene King is well positioned to make further progress and continue outperforming the market,” outgoing Chief Executive Officer Rooney Anand said.

(Reporting by Chris Peters and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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