A brewing giant has claimed pubs are benefiting because people want to get away from Brexit.

Belhaven Brewery owner Greene King said Brexit boredom is among the reasons people have been heading to pubs as it reported an increase in profit over the last six months.

Like-for-like sales in Greene King's own pubs division, which accounts for the majority of revenue, were up 2.7%.

This was ahead of the wider market, which notched up an average of 1.1% growth in the same period.

Revenue in brewing and brands was up 7.5%, thanks to the World Cup and weather-related beer sales boom.

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Revenue was up 1.95%, amounting to more than £1 billion in the 24 weeks to October 14.

Adjusted profit before tax was almost flat at £128.2 million.


Rooney Anand, Greene King chief executive, above, said that "people are bored from Brexit and that’s actually translating to pubs benefiting".

He said: "Pubs are benefiting in some respects from every time we turn on the television, radio or read the newspaper, all you hear about is Brexit and it doesn’t really take you forward."

The firm, which brews beers such as Belhaven Best and Old Speckled Hen and has more than 200 pubs in Scotland, said it is making contingency plans to protect against disruption if Britain leaves the trading bloc next March without a deal.

The company hinted at stockpiling as it said it was preparing for a no-deal eventuality.

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Mr Anand said: "Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit may impact on consumer confidence, but, as a team, we are focused on our key strategic priorities and remain confident of our outlook for the financial year."

He added: "We are working with all our major suppliers and supply chain partners and assessing their levels of readiness under different Brexit scenarios and once we are clear of hopefully post-December 11 which way we are pointing, then we will take concrete steps.

He said that "9.2% of our 39,000 employees who work for as are EU nationals".

"We are doing all the right things to support them and reassure them and ensure that they’ve got no concerns about right to work or to stay in the UK."

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Mr Anand said Scotland had performed well, new beer strategies are being undertaken and that this year would bring a celebration for Belhaven.

"There’s a small matter of a little birthday coming up, it’s the 300th anniversary of Belhaven’s founding year, so we will be partying on in 2019.

"There will be a series of events."

He said: "We are pleased by the pubs performance in Scotland but we have also done some good things on the beer front as well.

"Both north and south of the border we have put a lot of emphasis and resources behind our core brands, in Scotland that is Belhaven Best.

"We are also encouraging the brewers, particularly some of the younger brewers to be a bit more contemporary and innovative and are using hops and barley and flavour profiles from around the world even Twisted Mango IPA from Belhaven, who’d have thought of such a thing.

"But these are not distractions or little bits of noise, they are quite key aspects in which we encourage the team to try new things and try and stay in touch with or ahead of younger customers."

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Mr Anand, who steps down in May after 18 years with the firm, 14 as its chief executive, relfected: "It has been a great privilege to lead the businesses.

"It has been a fantastic period of my life.

"I’m very confident that I leave the business with a great team behind me which my successor will inherit in May and push on to even bigger and better things, and I shall be its number one fan from not too far with great admiration and affection."

Alasdair Ronald, of Brewin Dolphin Scotland, said the results were "relatively flat" and weakening consumer confidence could impact sales, adding "when times are tough, family meals out are often one of the first items to be cut back".

He added: "Having said that, the company has a well-managed estate, some strong brands, and sufficient cash flow to fund growth and service its debt."