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UPDATE 1-Slug and Lettuce owner reports solid UK Christmas pub sales

Updated: 09-01-2019 18:08 IST

Stonegate Pub Company on Friday reported an 8-12 percent rise in sales over the Christmas period, the first major UK bar owner to publish holiday results in a sector that has been plagued by unseasonal weather and Brexit worries.

Stonegate, whose Slug and Lettuce chain is part of a portfolio of more than 700 British pubs, said sales rose 12 percent on the year in the two weeks to Jan 1.

Like-for-like sales growth was 7.8 percent and for key trading days, including Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, sales were up on average 8.3 percent, the company said.

A slump in the pound since Brexit and rise in the national minimum wage and cost pressures has crimped margins for pub owners. At the same time, chains have said that last year's cold winter and fears over the future of the economy have kept many drinkers at home.

"We have entered 2019 with positive momentum," said Chief Executive Officer Simon Longbottom, saying the company had gained market share on the back of strong customer service and gains from a new booking system over Christmas.

The collapse into administration of HMV after poor Christmas sales was the latest hit to British high street retailers who have battered by the shift to online shopping.

Trading updates from clothing retailer Next Plc and department stores operator John Lewis, however, have been more upbeat.

Stonegate is the fourth largest managed pub company in the UK, established in 2010 to acquire 333 pubs from Mitchells & Butlers plc and expanding through a slew of acquisitions since.

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)