Punch Taverns toasts profit growth

10-11-2006

Punch Taverns, which owns more than 9,000 pubs across the UK, revealed a 21 per cent increase in annual profits today.

In a statement, the pubs group confirmed that its profit before tax and exceptional items was £250 million in the 52 weeks to August 19th, up from £207 million a year earlier.

Punch revealed that its estate of 7,846 tenanted pubs increased like-for-like revenues by one per cent over the period, with 96 news pubs bought and 551 of its smaller outlets sold.

The company believes the tenanted pubs it has disposed of have "less sustainable prospects", particularly in view of the smoking ban which is to come into force in England and Wales next year.

Today's statement confirmed that the firm intends to continue to restructure its estate of managed pubs, with 389 pubs sold over the year and a further 155 transferred from the estate and into the hands of tenants, with agreements for 175 additional transfers in the pipeline.

Punch also acquired 82 pubs from Mill House Inns for £164 million in a deal which was completed in September.

Turning to the impact of new legislation on its business, Punch confirmed that the Licensing Act had had "little impact" on overall trading despite the introduction of more flexible opening hours, adding that the experience of implementing Scotland's smoking ban across its Scottish pubs had prepared the company for the introduction of a similar ban in England and Wales.

Punch said that the introduction of outside smoking areas and better pub amenities had helped "negate" the impact of the ban in Scotland in addition to creating new trading opportunities.

Commenting on the results, Punch Taverns chief executive Giles Thorley said: "The shape and quality of our leased and managed estates has never been better.

"We continue to see further opportunities to both invest in and add to our estates while at the same time managing our programmes of conversion and disposal," he added.


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