REFILE-UPDATE 1-Spirit Pub Company says bad weather hit recent trading

Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:44am EDT

* Like-for-like sales at managed pubs down 1.1 pct

* Sales hit by bad weather at start of 2013

* Company says it will meet full-year expectations

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Spirit Pub Company expects to meet full-year forecasts despite second-quarter sales falling because of cold weather, it said on Tuesday.

Spirit, which runs about 800 managed pubs and 400 leased pubs in Britain, saw net sales at pubs managed directly by the company fall 1.1 percent in the eight weeks to March 2 after prolonged bad weather in January and February.

"Recent trading has been impacted by adverse weather conditions and, with the consumer environment remaining challenging, we are redoubling our efforts to improve the retail offer in all areas of our business," Chief Executive Mike Tye said in a statement.

"We remain confident of delivering full-year expectations," he added.

Best known for its Chef & Brewer and Flaming Grill pub chains, Spirit overcame rises in beer duty and raw material costs last year to report a 16 percent increase in full-year pre-tax profit.

The company, which owns a range of family-targeted brands, said it had invested in 50 pubs in the year to date and had merged brands that have a similar customer base, disposing of its Original Pub brand.

Net income fell by 4.2 percent at Spirit's leased pubs, run by publicans who pay the company rent and rely on it for their beer supply.

The company said it is making good progress disposing of underperforming pubs among its leased estate, having sold 20 so far this year.

Shares in Spirit have risen more than 20 percent since it demerged from Punch Taverns in August 2011 as part of a move to cut billions of pounds of debt. Punch's shares have slipped 17 percent over the same period.

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