THE popularity of lower calorie dishes helped Greene King to achieve record profits, it was revealed yesterday.
The company, which employs 1,523 staff and operates 82 pubs and restaurants in Yorkshire, said it had achieved strong growth in a difficult environment.
Food sales rose 17 per cent in the year to April 29, after the company’s performance was boosted by initiatives such as serving jacket potatoes as an alternative to chips.
This helped the Bury St Edmunds based group, which operates 2,334 pubs, restaurants and hotels, grow its share of the eating out market, which has become increasingly important to the pub trade since the introduction of the smoking ban.
The firm, which also runs Old English Inns and employs 22,000 people, reported an 8.6 per cent rise in underlying profits to £152m, as consumers continued to look for “everyday treats” despite the economic gloom.
Chief executive Rooney Anand said that the Olympics could provide a further hike to sales but it was cautious about the coming year.
He added: “Looking further ahead, our customers’ spending will continue to be squeezed and concerns remain about job security. Our strategy is tailored for these difficult conditions as we focus on providing ‘everyday treats’ to our customers.”
Other initiatives to drive food sales included the introduction of Illy coffee, which helped coffee sales rise 20 per cent.