Punch Taverns upbeat as debt talks progress

 
City A.M. Reporter
DEBT-RIDDEN pub group Punch Taverns yesterday showed signs of life, pointing to “improving like-for-like trends” in trading and saying that a sell-off programme had gone better than expected.

The company – which owns about 4,500 pubs in the UK and leases them out to landlords – said that income during the three months to 2 March had declined at a slower rate than in the previous quarter.

Punch Taverns said sales had fallen by 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the quarter, compared to 5.2 per cent in the previous period, and that 94 per cent of its pubs were occupied compared to 91 per cent a year ago,

The company also said it had seen “positive progress” in talks over restructuring its £2.4bn debt pile. Punch is negotiating with stakeholders on converting the debt into equity.