Pleased as Punch: Debts down and profits up after sale of pubs

 
Madeline Ratcliffe
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Punch Taverns is selling 153 “non-core” pubs in a £53m deal with New River Retail
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h Taverns said yester­day it was back on track, announcing a four per cent increase in average profits.

Last week, it said it was calling time on 153 “non-core” pubs in a £53.5m deal with investment trust New River Retail, with the proceeds to be used to reduce debt.

This will allow the company to focus on its higher quality “core estate” pubs, where net income was up 0.3 per cent.

Punch announced its estate has been independently valued at almost £2.1bn; £691m in excess of nominal net debt, which was reduced by £513m in the year, and is down £102m since its £2.3bn debt restructuring in October 2014.

The company’s overall performance was in line with management expectations.

Chief executive Duncan Garrood commented: “The business has clear plans for further debt reduction and will benefit from being able to focus more resources on the higher quality core pub estate.”

Punch Taverns was set up by Hugh Osmond of Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge founder Roger Myers, and is the UK's second biggest landlord, but after aggressive expansion in the early 2000s it was hit by the recession, as well as the smoking ban and beer duty rises.

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