FEW sectors clawed their way out of the financial crisis with a worse hangover than the pub industry. Years of debt-fuelled expansion left the sector massively over-geared. At Friday’s close, Punch was worth just £380m while its debt pile is a staggering £3.1bn.

Now that finance director Phil Dutton has left the business, boss Ian Dyson has the space to think outside of the box.

Selling off the 6,000 or so pubs that Punch leases to landlords is exactly the kind of radical move he should be considering.

However, the situation at Punch remains volatile, especially as the austerity measures have yet to sink in. Dyson needs to do more to prove himself before we can rate these shares as a “buy”.