Greene King yesterday unveiled a jump in profits thanks to a strong performance from a couple of key acquisitions.
The group said Nottinghamshire-based Hardys & Hansons, which it acquired on September 5, was performing well along with the Scottish Belhaven chain.
The pair helped lift half-year pretax profits by 20 per cent to #67.1 million in the six months to October 15, as like-for-like sales at the pubs arm improved by 3.3 per cent during the period.
Chief executive Rodney Anand: "We have benefited from our acquisition of Belhaven, which is proving to be a great addition to Greene King.
"In the second half there will also be a full contribution from Hardys & Hansons, which is performing well and integration is on track."
Greene King said the integration of Hardy & Hansons was on track, with synergies to hit #5 million, #3 millikon of which will be achieved in the first year.
Greene King now operates from more than 2,000 sites after also recently buying historic Essex brewer Ridley’s. It is best known for Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen.
The Suffolk-based company has been offloading pubs as well, including 155 venues to Admiral Taverns in a deal valued at #56 million last month.
The move, involving properties across the south of England, consolidates Admiral Taverns as the UK's third largest operator of tenanted and leased pubs.
Admiral beefed up its estate earlier this year when it took on 769 pubs from Enterprise Inns for #318 million. It now has around 1,950 sites.
Analysts were sceptical of Greene King's decision to take on Belhaven last year because of the smoking ban in Scottish pubs, but the group said trading had been encouraging.
Mr Anand said he was "cautiously optimistic" for the long term prospects in pubs north of the border. Profits grew eight per cent at the division during the period.
Greene King said revenues increased 16 per cent to #419.2 million, with turnover improving at its Hungry Horse chain and the tenanted and leased pubs division.
The brewing operation was hit by the hot summer, which meant drinkers switched from ales to lager and left revenues broadly flat at around #41 million.
Speckled Hen was relaunched in August in a bid to broaden its appeal to drinkers, while Greene King IPA has become the official beer of England Rugby – the company’s biggest ever sponsorship deal.
Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "Although these figures are very much in line with expectations, Greene King continues to fire on all cylinders.
"Both managed and tenanted pub chains have enjoyed sales growth, while the brewing division is enjoying the benefits of recent acquisitions. Furthermore, whilst traditional ale sales have made their normal summer decline, the group is still growing its overall market share."