Punch, which has over 7,500 pubs across Britain, said it was well advanced in the process of appointing a successor as chief executive and added there will be “an orderly transition of management”.
“The past two years we have faced the worst recession for a generation and significant structural and political challenges to the industry,” Thorley said in a statement yesterday.
“We have made good progress in reshaping our business and balance sheet, stabilised our operating performance and have taken the right actions to position Punch to achieve long-term sustainable success,” he added.
The company has been selling underperforming pubs and buying back bonds in order to reduce its borrowings, which were built up largely through its £2.7bn acquisition of Spirit Group in 2007.
Despite that, net debt stood at a crippling £3.35bn last December, over six times the company’s equity value.
The company has seen its profits hit by the impact of the recession, above-inflation tax rises and cheap booze offers in supermarkets contriving to keep drinkers at home.
In the face of such challenges, it has been spending around £2m each month to help struggling tenants stay afloat, through rent concessions and product discounts.
Shares in Punch closed on Monday at 81.25p, valuing the business at £530m.