Punch suffers profits blow

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One of the UK’s largest pub owners today revealed a 20 per cent drop in profits as the consumer spending slump continues to squeeze the business.

Punch Taverns, which has some 4,800 leased pubs, saw profits in the 28 weeks to March 3 fall by £8m to £33m as like-for-like net income in its core estate dipped 2.1 per cent.

However, the group said the decline in net income was driven by pubs which were returned to the group after failing and have been placed under temporary management, with the majority of the estate performing well.

Punch, which is in the middle of a turnaround plan that involves selling its 2,000 worst performing sites, said it was on track to close between 400 and 500 outlets this financial year.

Roger Whiteside, Punch chief executive, said consumer market conditions had been “weaker” in recent months but the group, which demerged its managed arm into a separate company, Spirit Group, in August, was still in line to meet full-year expectations.