Greggs fight ‘pasty tax’ while pub chains tackle fallout of April showers

Two of Britain’s biggest pub chains will reveal this week whether April’s washout weather hit sales, while bakers chain Greggs will be quizzed about how it plans to deal with the so-called pasty tax.

Greggs could face a grilling from shareholders and analysts on Wednesday about how much the proposed pasty tax will hurt it.

The chain, which is holding its annual general meeting, has been battling plans announced in the budget to extend the 20% VAT tax to its hot takeaway food — including pasties and sausage rolls.

Chief executive Ken McMeikan helped deliver nearly half a million signatures to 10 Downing Street last month, claiming that the tax is unworkable, would hit the poor hardest and further damage the high street.

Greggs already pays VAT on hot sandwiches, breakfast rolls, soup, coffee, and a selection of confectionery lines, accounting for some 20% of its sales, according to Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital.

He said the Government’s plans would hit Greggs’ savoury range, which accounts for about a third of its sales, and had previously been exempt because the products are left to cool after being cooked.

The consultation period ends on Friday but the government is not expected to back down.

Meanwhile, Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers reports half-year results on Friday.

The group, which also owns the All Bar One, Toby Carvery, O’Neill’s, Brown’s, and Sizzling Pubs brands, reported a resilient 4.4% sales increase in the 17 weeks to January 21, with pub grub driving the growth.

However, trading slowed in January and is expected to have remained subdued in February, although March’s heatwave should have provided a lift.

Mitchells, which serves an estimated 125 million meals and 425 million drinks a year, previously said it is trying to offset some of the rising costs by growing sales and introducing “menu initiatives” but it will be pressed on whether it is making progress.

And investors will also be hoping for an update on in its hunt for a chief executive to end to the boardroom turmoil that has plagued the group in recent times.

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