By James Atkinson

Sales through Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group (ALH), the Woolworths-owned pub group, were up $379 million for the first quarter of the 2012-13 financial year.

The result is an increase of 17.3 per cent on the previous year. It comes after ALH added opened 32 hotels during the quarter and closed one, bringing its total number of venues to 325.

Comparable sales increased 7.3 per cent for the quarter, which Woolworths said reflects continuing growth in food and bar sales as well as an increase in gaming comparable sales, mainly as a result of the Victorian gaming regulatory changes.

On August 16, a new venue-operator model came into effect in Victoria, which meant that hotels and clubs that had purchased gaming machine entitlements were authorised to own and operate gaming machines, ending the duopoly held by Tatts Group and Tabcorp.

ALH Group CEO Bruce Mathieson Jnr said: "We have had a good start to FY13 which included an impact on sales from the changes to the Victorian gaming legislation."

"We are pleased with the performance of our new hotels and the integration to date," he added.

Woolworths' Australian Food and Liquor sales for the quarter were $10.1 billion, an increase of $0.4 billion or 4.6 per cent over last year. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.3 per cent.

Woolworths director of liquor, Brad Banducci, said: "Our liquor business experienced another quarter of solid growth which was underpinned by good performances in Dan Murphy's, BWS and online."

Woolworths opened six Dan Murphy's during the quarter taking the total to 165. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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