For the first 12 weeks of the second quarter (to 19 January 2014), like-for-like sales increased by 6.7% and total sales by 10.6%. In the year to date (25 weeks to 19 January 2014), like-for-like sales increased by 5.2% and total sales increased by 9.0%.
We expect the operating margin (before any exceptional items), for the half year ending 26 January 2014, to be around 8.1%, 0.2% lower than the same period last year, due primarily to increased investment in a number of areas, for example, (IT, training and additional operating personnel) as we prepare for an increased number of pubs in the years ahead. We now estimate an operating margin (before any exceptional items) in the region of 8.1% to 8.3% for this financial year, assuming that we achieve reasonable sales growth.
We now anticipate a slightly higher corporation tax rate for this financial year, at around 27%, due to higher-than-expected non-qualifying capital expenditure.
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