Greene King snaps up pub chain

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Greene King is aiming for a bigger slice of the carvery market following the takeover of Cloverleaf

Greene King has revealed a £55.8 million push for a bigger slice of the carvery market following the takeover of pub restaurant group Cloverleaf.

The deal has added another 12 restaurants to Greene King’s existing estate, which includes the Hungry Horse carvery chain, as well as Loch Fyne sea food restaurants, Scottish business Belhaven and the Old English chain.

Greene King plans to pump in around £25 million to finance 10 new Cloverleaf openings within two years as part of a strategy to focus on food-led sites.

Cloverleaf – founded in 2004 by former Whitbread executives Gary Douglas and John Winder – operates across the north and midlands.

Details of the acquisition emerged as Greene King reported back on robust trading despite snow disruption ahead of Christmas.

Like-for-like sales rose 3.9% across its Greene King retail estate, with sales up 10.3% at Hungry Horse carveries and 3.6% ahead at Belhaven over the 38 weeks to January 23. Food sales rose 8.2% in its Greene King retail arm, according to the group.

Greene King’s tenanted pubs saw like-for-like earnings rise by a more modest 0.6%, but it said all businesses were trading well after a good January.

Greene King also has a brewing business, which makes ales including Greene King IPA cask ale and Old Speckled Hen. Brewing volumes fell 3.3% against a 7.6% drop in the wider market over the 38-week period.

A spokesman for Greene King said the Cloverleaf deal was an “exciting acquisition” for the group.

Shares rose 5% after the trading update and acquisition news, with analysts at Numis Securities upping profit forecasts for the current financial year and following two years.

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