Olympics hit pub chain beer sales

THE UK’s biggest pub landlord was hit by a plunge in beer volumes during the Olympics as punters stayed at home to enjoy the London 2012 games.

Enterprise Inns, which has 6,060 leasehold and tenanted pubs, said that while “national pride” might have received a boost, beer volumes dropped eight per cent year-on-year in the two weeks covering the Olympics, compared to a three per cent decline for the financial year.

The group saw pre-tax profits drop 12 per cent to £137m in the year to September 30 as it continued its disposal programme, selling 301 properties in the period.

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Enterprise, which saw like-for-like sales decline 1.2 per cent, compared to a 4.3 per cent drop the previous year, said it had raised £208m from disposals in the period. Within this, 199 properties were unsustainable pubs, generating net sale proceeds of £67m, while 102 were “exceptional properties”, generating net proceeds of £117m.

A further 17 were sold as a sale-and-leaseback package for net proceeds of £24m. The group said its performance was lifted by events such as the Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012, although these were offset by record-breaking rainfall in the period.

Enterprise said it wants to reduce the size of the estate to 5,200 properties over the next three years and spend £180m on improving the quality of its estate. It hopes to receive proceeds for disposals in the year to September 2013 of around £150m.

The board said that due to economic uncertainty, it believes that it is not appropriate to resume dividend payments.