Greene King to serve up more jobs

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The owner of Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne Restaurants said yesterday that 3,000 new jobs are on the menu as it gears up for more growth in the eating-out market.

Suffolk-based Greene King wants to create the roles over three years as part of plans to boost its estate to 1,100 managed pubs and restaurants, up from 950 currently.

The expansion has been driven by strong food sales as consumers trade down from more expensive restaurant-only competitors.

Greene King said new sites and strong demand helped total food sales jump 16.3 per cent in the first six months of its financial year.

Overall, revenues were a record £527.5m, up 9 per cent on a year earlier, and meant profits for the group lifted 5.6 per cent to £73.1m in the six months to October 16.

The company said there were more opportunities for growth.

“Our annualised food sales are over £300m in a fragmented, growing UK market worth around £40bn.”

It added current trading remained strong, with a 12 per cent rise in Christmas bookings despite the current economic climate.

Rival Marston’s is also expanding after pledging to build another 25 pubs in a move set to create 1,000 jobs over the next year.

Greene King, which currently employs 20,000 people across its managed pubs, brewing and tenanted pub division, has created 800 apprenticeships as part of its recent expansion and expects this figure to rise to around 2,000.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: “While the consumer environment remains challenging, Greene King is another company proving that with the right offering, progress can still be made.”