Enterprise Inns has announced an 8.6 per cent rise in annual profits, while at the same time also revealing that it has reached an agreement to sell its estate of Scottish premises.
In a statement, the pub chain said that its profit before tax and exceptional items in the year to September 30th was £315 million, compared to £290 million a year earlier.
Enterprise also announced a 50 per cent increase in the year dividend it will pay to shareholders, with investors set to receive 27 pence per share.
The company said that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and exceptional items (EBITDA) for each of its pubs had increased by the equivalent of 5.2 per cent, or £64,200.
However, Enterprise chief executive Ted Tuppen acknowledged that trading was down by one to two per cent in Scotland, compared to its pubs in England and Wales.
In today's statement, the company revealed that it had reached a £115 million deal with Retail and Licensed Properties Limited to sell its entire Scottish estate of 137 pubs.
Mr Tuppen denied that the sale was prompted by falling profits resulting from the introduction of a smoking ban in Scotland in March.
"We didn't sell the Scottish estate for anything other than strategic reasons. It wasn't that it was a disaster because of the smoking ban," Mr Tuppen told the Reuters news agency.
In its statement, Enterprise said that the sale reflected its "lack of critical mass in Scotland", where the leased and tenanted concept was "not so well established" as within England and Wales.
Meanwhile, the company said that it had invested some £54 million over the year to improve its pub estate, with much of the expenditure directed at preparing premises in England and Wales for the introduction of a smoking ban next year.
Commenting on Enterprise's overall performance, Mr Tuppen said: "This has been another excellent year for the Enterprise Inns team, working together with our licensees to improve the quality and profitability of our pubs and once again delivering substantial growth in shareholder value.
"The new financial year has started well and we look forward to another year of solid progress," he added.