In the latest trading update Spirit revealed food sales were up by just over 6 per cent while drinks sales had gone up by just under 4 per cent in the same 12-week period.
Mike Tye, chief executive of Spirit Pub Company said food sales in particular were becoming more important in several of the venues for the business, especially some of the traditionally drinks-led pubs.
“We are pleased to report another strong quarter of growth, driven by a market-leading performance in our managed estate. Guests have continued to respond enthusiastically as we innovate, introduce food to more of our traditionally drinks-led pubs and pursue operational improvements throughout the estate," he said.
Spirit said it had seen very good results by introducing food into the drinks-led pubs. The Flaming Grill brand, which amounts to 81 pubs, saw its food mix increase to 50 per cent of sales in the first half of the year.
The company said it had invested in refurbishment for 156 sites in the managed pub estate which totals around 800 pubs. Nearly three-quarters of the managed estate has now been refurbished and branded, according to Spirit.
Of the main brands for the company, the Chef & Brewer brand refurbishment has now been completed and Spirit close to completing the investment in the Taylor Walker and Fayre & Square brands. Tye said the company would continue with the brand investment but would now switch focus.
"Our strategy of investing in brands has proven successful, with three of our brand refurbishments now largely complete. Our focus is now turning to the Flaming Grill, John Barras and Original Pub Company brands. While we are mindful of the ongoing economic uncertainty and consumer pressures, we remain on track to deliver our full year expectations,” he said.
Spirit has now taken full control of its leased estate following the end of a management services agreement with Punch Taverns. Like-for-like net income in the period fell by 6.4 per cent and although Spirit admitted there had been a slowdown in trend during the second quarter, performance was still line with its expectations for the end of the year.
Up to 80 underperforming pubs have been marked by Spirit for disposal and seven leased pubs have been converted to the managed brands for the company with another 20 to be converted during the financial year.