Pubs Group Is Punch-Ing above Its Weight with New Report

The Birmingham Post (England), January 25, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Pubs Group Is Punch-Ing above Its Weight with New Report


Shares in pubs group Punch Taverns edged higher yesterday after the market welcomed a 'solid' trading update.

The Burton upon Trent group said its trading had been "steady" and in line with expectations for the year since August 20.

Punch, which has more than 9,000 sites around the UK, reported its strongest growth in its managed pub estate, following a like-for-like sales rise of around five per cent in the 20 weeks to January 6.

The improvement reflected the recent drive to promote food sales as pubs prepare for the introduction of a nationwide smoking ban in the summer.

In the leased estate, like-for-like growth continued at around one per cent, with an increasing component being rent from landlords.

Overall, the company said Christmas sales had been in line with recent trends. Chief executive Giles Thorley told shareholders ahead of the company's annual meeting: "This has been a period of continued progress for Punch Taverns on all fronts.

"Our pubs are trading well in a quiet market and we have continued to improve the quality of our estate through conversions, acquisitions and investment."

Around a third of the company's sites are community pubs, with another quarter seen as "mid-market locals".

Following the trading update, broker JP Morgan maintained its 'overweight' stance, noting the update was 'solid', with growth in the leased estate and increasing rent components underpinning its full year profit forecasts.

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