Enterprise puts dividend on ice amid tough trading

ENTERPRISE Inns said yesterday it would not pay a dividend in the current year and expected trading conditions to remain challenging.

Shares in Britain’s biggest pub group went down by more than ten per cent at one stage.

The company stopped paying dividends in May 2009 to help reduce crippling debt of nearly £4bn.

It left the door open to a resumption of dividends next year if market conditions improve as it reported full-year results in line with market forecasts. Shares had jumped since August in anticipation of a restored dividend.

Chief executive Ted Tuppen said: “Given the current degree of market uncertainty, the board does not consider that the resumption of dividends now would be appropriate.”

He said subject to market conditions, the board expected further stabilisation in the pub estates' performance and to cut debts via cash from the sale of some pubs.

“The board is confident that the business is in a sound position to deliver positive returns to shareholders over the medium term, including the resumption of dividend payments.”