Spirit Pub Company, the managed pub operator, has this morning reported a 6.2% increase in like-for-like sales across its managed estate for the 16 weeks to 10 December, and said it was on track to meet full year expectations. Performance across the group’s managed pubs division, which reported its sixth consecutive quarter of growth, was boosted by a 7.9% increase in food sales and a 6.1% rise in drink sales during the period. The company said performance in the division was also underpinned by investment in its brands, estate and people, while the mild weather helped growth accelerate in the quarter. It said that 108 pubs underwent major refurbishment during the 16 weeks and that it was close to completing the refurbishment of its Chef & Brewer brand. It is now shifting focus to the expansion of its Fayre & Square, Flaming Grill and John Barras brands. The group said that innovation in new brands such as Flaming Grill had introduced “significant food sales” into some of its drink-led pubs and that it had also continued to re-invigorate its existing food-led brands. Like-for-like net income across its leased estate fell 3.3%, but the group said that performance in the division during the 16 weeks was in line with its expectations. It said the estate continued to be a potential source of growth for its managed estate through leased to managed conversions, of which it has converted five to date, as well as a strong source of cash generation for the business. As revealed last month by M&C Report, Spirit has appointed Chris Welham as managing director of its leased division to continue to drive improvement across the estate. Welham, who succeeds Peter Brook, has over 18 years experience in the industry and joins Spirit from Greene King, where he was operations director for its leased estate. Mike Tye, who will officially take over as chief executive from Ian Dyson at the group’s AGM later today, said: “We are pleased with the continued progress we have made in the business, as we strive to become the best pub company in the UK. We have delivered another quarter of strong growth and have again outperformed the market. While we expect the economic and consumer outlook to be more challenging, we are on track to deliver our full year expectations.”