Spirit Group this morning reported like-for-like sales up 3.9% on a continuing basis for the fourth quarter. Ebitda before rent and exceptional items was up 6.3%. Like-for-like drink sales growth rose by 2.8%, with food sales up 7.7%. Karen Jones, the group’s chief executive, said: "These are strong results which derive from the success of our trading strategy following the re-shaping of our business over the past twenty months. "This re-shaping has created a very high quality, focused estate of local pubs and food-led businesses. "We are delighted with the growth in food throughout Spirit, driven by a focus on quality and innovation. Cost control programmes have proved their worth, resulting in continuing strong profit conversion and good profit growth." In the eight weeks since the start of the company’s financial year, like-for-like sales had continued to increase, rising by 3.2%. The company is due to assess any "serious" offers for the group early next month, with Jones commenting that the company hoped to have resolved the issue by mid-November. Parties linked to what could be a £3bn deal so far include: Punch Taverns, Robert Tchenguiz, Robin Saunders, Macquarie Bank and Mitchells & Butlers.