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1 February, 2008 - 04:27 By Staff Reporter

Confidence takes Suffolk brewer back up to a billion

Brewer and pub operator, Greene King has pushed its market cap back over the billion mark, after issuing a statement of its confidence in the company's performance in the challenging licensing trade.

 The Suffolk-based firm said that like-for-like sales at its managed pubs business were down less than one per cent year so far, in line with last year, while tenanted like-for-like profit was up just over one per cent. It said that Loch Fyne, the seafood restaurant chain it acquired last Summer, had a strong Christmas and New Year with like-for-like sales up by 2.3 per cent, but that trading across the wider group remained subdued during off-peak days. It added that its won brand beers have grown over six per cent and that its Scottish acquisition continues to perform strongly during the second year of the smoking ban in Scotland. The group has bought back over fifteen million shares at an average price of 973p per share for a total value of £149.5m since the beginning of the financial year, it said, and cashflow performance and balance sheet position are healthy and in line with forecasts. "We expect the rest of the year to remain challenging," the company said in a statement. "Nevertheless, the inherent strengths of our business, the resilience of our business model and the encouraging contributions from recent acquisitions give us confidence that our earnings expectations for the year to May 4th will be met." Shares in the company have grown over three per cent to 768p, boosting its market cap up to £1.03bn.

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