ENTERPRISE Inns yesterday said that improvements to its pubs had led to sales growth in its fourth quarter of 0.6 per cent, while chief executive Ted Tuppen announced he will retire.
Tuppen has spent 23 years in the role and led this year’s successful initiative to return the firm to growth.
Tuppen’s initiative included new deals to provide Wi-Fi in pubs and an agreement to make it cheaper for pubs to serve better food.
Enterprise Inns’ results for the year to 30 September still leave the chain’s pre-tax profits down 11.6 per cent for the year at £121m, reflecting cold weather that hit performance in the first half and a continued squeeze on consumer spending.
“We are pleased to report an improving trend in our trading performance which, together with our actions to improve the quality of the estate and reduce our net debt, puts us on a clear path to return to growth in the near term,” said Tuppen on the results.
“This performance was particularly pleasing when set against the challenging economic conditions, the adverse weather at the beginning of the year and the failure of our wines and spirits distributor,” added Tuppen.
Enterprise Inns rents out its 5,636 pubs, rather than managing them like competitors Greene King and Punch Taverns.
Deutsche Bank described the results and news of Tuppen’s departure yesterday as the end of an era for the firm. With a target price of 205p it said: “With positive news on current trading, soft comps and an improving outlook, the shares should rally.”
Enterprise Inns’ shares rose 11.9 per cent yesterday to close at 154p.
PROFILE: TED TUPPEN
Ted Tuppen founded Enterprise Inns in 1991 before its listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1995. Over the past 23 years he first led the business to its peak in 2006, when its shares price pushed upwards of 1,350p and its estate included 8,500 pubs. Much of the expansion during this time was due largely to an acquisition spree fuelled by debt, and the financial crisis in 2007 saw the company face severe difficulties. Since then Tuppen led the company to sell off much of its estate; Enterprise Inns now rents out just 5,636 pubs, and helped secure a £1.1bn overdraft to deal with its difficulties. Yesterday’s results indicate that the struggle to turn the business around may have finally worked. On his retirement Tuppen said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Enterprise and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. It has been a privilege to work with such a great team of colleagues and I am thankful to them all for their support and hard work over the years.” Simon Townsend, currently operations chief at Enterprise Inns, will take over as chief executive from 6 February, following the board’s appointment. Looking to the future of Enterprise Inns, Townsend said: “The business is in great shape, having come through some of the most challenging economic trading conditions we have ever seen. We will remain focused on returning the business to growth, investing in and enhancing the quality of our estate and providing the highest quality support to our publicans.”