Greene Kings beer business has a tough summer

Greene King's beer business has a tough summer

Greene King has said that its beer sales have struggled to maintain momentum due to weak demand over the summer months in the UK.

Sales of own-brewed brands, including Old Speckled Hen and Greene King IPA, have collectively fallen by nearly 5% in volume for the 18 weeks to the 5 September. The fall follows a 10% rise in volumes during the same period of last year, Greene King said at its Annual General Meeting today (7 September).

Total beer volume sales, including brands brewed under licence, were flat for the 18-week period. The brewer said that July and August were "very weak" for sales of ale in the UK.

It said that it still expects to have outperformed the ale market, which shrank by 8% in volume in the three months to the end of June, according to the latest figures from the British Beer & Pub Association.

"The economic and consumer environment remains uncertain as a number of significant headwinds, including public sector cuts, benefits reform and the impending VAT rise, are likely to affect future household spending," said Greene King.

The group said that its retail business, which represents 70% of annual sales, has shown a 4.4% rise in like-for-like value sales for the 18-week period. This has been driven by higher food sales across the group's outlets.