Punch Taverns reports 1% profit rise for first half


Punch Taverns reports 1% profit rise for first half
Punch Taverns has reported a slight rise in pre-tax interim profit to £133 million from £132 million in 2007 for the last six months despite a challenging market and a reduced estate.

The pub chain said its estate is now nine per cent smaller than in 2007 and at March 1st 2008, Punch owned 8,449 pubs. Redundancies cost the company £5 million in the quarter.

Punch also blamed the smoking ban and pressures on consumers' income from increased food and fuel costs for a downturn in trade.

The group emphasised its disappointment with the alcohol duty increase in the last Budget.

"We were particularly disappointed that the government fails to recognise the important and beneficial role that the pub and traditional brewers make to the British economy and the communities that they serve," Punch said in a statement.

"We would encourage the government to do more to safeguard the future of the local pub at the heart of our communities, rather than penalising responsible pub goers and licensees. In the meantime we support the industry's call to ban the chancellor of the exchequer from every pub in the land."

Britain's biggest pub operator said it has been focussing on alternative revenue streams, including Post Office counters, outlets that serve school meals to children and pubs that sell fresh produce to customers.

Punch's managed pubs arm Spirit reported an average earnings growth of four per cent per pub. The division was at the centre of a failed takeover deal earlier this month with rival Mitchells & Butlers.

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