BOSSES at a Burton-based beer giant have revealed they are ‘very confident’ of restructuring the firm – after admitting that without changes it would be unable to continue trading as a going concern.
Punch Taverns, based on the Centrum 100 business park, moved to allay fears after announcing that if a deal to reduce its £2.3 billion debt pile was not agreed, it could default on loans held against company assets.
The firm is hopeful that a consensual restructuring can be agreed before the end of 2013, and said until then it was ‘business as usual’.
A spokesman for Punch told the Mail: “The most positive aspect is that all parties involved with the decision with regard to the restructure are now around the table and talking.
“Although it has taken a long time, we are very, very confident of agreeing a restructure.”
The potential default came to light as Punch announced its latest set of financial figures.
It made a pre-tax profit of £17 million in the past year, but this was down from £52 million compared to last year.
A spokesman for the firm added: “Our results were in line with our expectations, but are down when compared to last year.
“Alongside the latest figures and restructuring talks, it is business as normal for Punch.
“We employ 250 in our Burton headquarters and every singe one is pulling to improve the business and make Punch the best it can be.”
Income from some 2,800 of the firm’s ‘core’ estate has returned to growth, with further growth expected over the coming 12 months.
Stephen Billingham, executive chairman of Punch Taverns, said: “We have delivered profits for the year in line with our expectations, and returned the core estate to growth in the most recent quarter.
“We have made excellent progress in implementing operational changes during the course of the year, and this is reflected in our recent financial performance.”
Punch was established by Hugh Osmond when he bought a portfolio of pubs from Bass in 1997 and expanded through a series of debt-funded deals.