UPDATE 1-Spirit Pub comparable sales shine on sunnier weather in March

Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:35am EDT

(Adds CEO and analyst comments, share movement)

By Karen Rebelo

June 10 (Reuters) - Spirit Pub Company Plc, the owner of Flaming Grill pubs, reported a rise in quarterly comparable sales as it benefited from sunnier weather during the period.

Shares in the company, which also owns chains such Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square and Taylor Walker, rose as much as 4 percent to 81 pence in early trade on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

The company said comparable net sales rose 6 percent during the 12 weeks to May 24 at its managed pubs.

"In March (last year) there was a lot of snow...and that particularly hurt the drink sales because people won't just walk down to their local pub for a drink because it's just too difficult," Chief Executive Mike Tye told Reuters.

Like-for-like drink sales at its managed pubs jumped 7.1 percent while food sales rose 4.8 percent, the company said. Managed pubs account for about three quarters of Spirit Pub's core earnings.

"Whilst Q3 was always going to look good against a soft comparative, the progress at Spirit continues to impress," Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram wrote in a note.

Spirit Pub's CEO declined to quantify any gain from the soccer World Cup that begins on Thursday but said he hoped it would be positive for the company.

Britain's restaurants and pubs are anticipating better sales this summer, helped by the government's extension of licensing hours during the tournament allowing fans to spend more time at their local watering holes.

"I'm certain that the three group stage games that England are playing will create fantastic excitement, will have great sales over that period. (But) I'm hoping we'll have great sales over the whole of the World Cup," CEO Tye said.

"I expect Brazil to win but I hope England will win".

Shares in the company, which was spun off from Punch Taverns Plc in 2011, were up about 2 percent at 79.50 pence at 0935 GMT on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday. (Reporting by Karen Rebelo and Aastha Agnihotri in Bangalore; Editing by Sunil Nair and Gopakumar Warrier)