Greene King, the brewer and pub operator, has this morning reported a 4.6% increase in like-for-like sales across its managed division for the 50 weeks to 15 April, helped by a 4.5% rise in its fourth quarter, and said it was well-placed to benefit from the events taking place this summer. The group said that March was “very strong”, helped by the warmer weather, while February was in line with the previous year, despite tough comparatives. The company said that the like-for-like sales increase across its c950 managed Retail division for the 50 weeks was driven by a 6.3% increase in food sales. Food sales during the fourth quarter climbed 6.7%, which the company said was helped by the launch, ahead of Easter, of its new spring menus across a number of its retail brands and formats. The company said that its retail expansion strategy was on track with 37 new sites acquired or developed in the year so far, while Hungry Horse, its leading retail brand, had grown to 180 sites across the UK. After 48 weeks, average EBITDA per pub in Pub Partners, its tenanted, franchised and leased business, was up 3.8%. Like-for-like EBITDA was down 0.1%, with core estate like-for-like EBITDA up by 0.5%. The group said it continued to make “strategic progress” in Pub Partners. It has made 97 non-core disposals in the year so far and said that Pub Partners now directly influences the retail offer in over 200 sites via the company’s growing franchised estate and other consumer-facing initiatives. Greene King said that its Brewing & Brands division had maintained its market outperformance during the 50 weeks, with own-brewed volumes up 0.8%. Towards the end of the period, it relaunched Greene King IPA backed up by marketing support of £4m, including new TV advertising. As part of the relaunch, it also introduced two new beers: Greene King IPA Gold and Greene King IPA Reserve. The group said that overall, its profit, cashflow and balance sheet remained in line with expectations. Rooney Anand, chief executive, said: “Our strong trading momentum continued through the final quarter of our financial year, with particularly good growth in our key business, Greene King Retail. Our focus on delivering unrivalled value, service and quality to our customers continues to drive our growth. “Following a record Christmas, we achieved very strong like-for-like sales growth on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and St. Patrick's Day. On Mother's Day, we sold 220,000 meals, up 16% on the previous year, with wine sales up 18%. Easter sales this year, despite more mixed weather, were in line with Easter last year. “Our success at big events and our performance in London, where like-for-like sales are up 6.7%, bode well for the upcoming summer as we are well placed to benefit from the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics.”