Pub chain Wethers storm

Obediah Brooke, Cleckheaton

Obediah Brooke, Cleckheaton

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The UK’s biggest pub chain has announced an increase in its festive sales for 2012.

The chain, which owns the Timepiece in Dewsbury, the Obediah Brooke in Cleckheaton and the Union Rooms in Batley, announced an increase of eight per cent last month in like-for-like sales on December 2011.

The company, which owns 860 pubs and employs 30,000 people across the UK also announced that total sales for the financial quarter until January 13 increased by 11 per cent, despite the expected downturn from the wet holiday weather.

The firm warned, however, of modest expectations for the coming year. 
A statement from the company said: “Our sales, profit and cash flow continue to be resilient, in spite of the continuing taxation and regulation burden on the pub industry and the on-going pressure on the consumer’s disposable incomes. The board expects a reasonable outcome for the current financial year.”

The group added that its corporation tax bill is likely to hit 27.5 per cent this year, and named the continued rises in costs behind its outlook.

The statement said: “We currently expect the operating margin for the half year ending January 27 to be around 8.2 percent, 1.1 per centlower than the last financial year.”

“Rises in costs of utilities, labour and bar and food supplies, combined with increased marketing costs.”