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UK's Revolution Bars warns on profit after strikes derail Christmas sales

(Reuters) - UK's Revolution Bars Group on Tuesday forecast its annual core profit to be at the bottom-end of market expectations after the city-centre pub chain's Christmas sales were hit by train strikes, sending shares sharply lower.

The Christmas trading update from the London-listed firm comes after the key sales period was dampened by nationwide train strikes in the UK amid a cost-of-living crunch that had already raised concerns for hospitality firms.

"Given the current economic environment, the coming months are going to be challenging and uncertain," Chief Executive Officer Rob Pitcher said, adding that train strikes dragged sales lower in the festive season, which still saw a record pre-booked party revenue this time around.

Shares of the pub group slumped as much as 25.7% to a record low of 5.50 pence in morning trade.

The company, which operates 90 premium pubs and bars in the UK, said group like-for-like sales for the Christmas trading period - the first festive season devoid of COVID-19 restrictions in three years - fell 9% compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Revolution Bars said Peach Pubs, which it acquired last October, outperformed other brands during the key year-end season, logging in over 10% like-for-like sales growth, compared with 2019 levels.

Sales in the first-half period ended Dec. 31 were down 9.4% as record temperatures in the summer kept people indoors, while strikes in the UK over wages across various sectors coupled with broader economic uncertainty weighed on demand.

The group said it plans to keep a number of its Revolution and Revolucion de Cuba sites shut on traditionally quieter Mondays and Tuesdays this month and early February to cut soaring energy bills.

Revolution Bars said its core profit for the year ended June 30 is likely to be at the bottom-end of market estimates of 6.7 million pounds to 10.5 million pounds ($8.2 million-$12.8 million).

($1 = 0.8186 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)