A BURTON based pub giant has revealed that a decline in sales slowed this winter as the group continued to sell venues it does not consider part of its core business.
Punch Taverns, based in Centrum 100, revealed that its 3,000-strong core estate saw like-for-like net income fall 3.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to 2 March, compared to a drop of 5.2 per cent for the previous quarter.
However, plans to sell around 400 pubs during the financial year were slightly ahead of target.
The group has sold 164 pubs, including 21 from the core estate, for £55 million, slightly ahead of estimated value.
It has also invested an average of £100,000 in each of 270 of its core pubs.
Executive chairman Stephen Billingham said: “Our profit performance for the first half of the year has been in line with management expectations, with improving trends in the underlying business.
“We have strong plans in place to return the core estate to growth in the medium-term. We expect to make further progress in the second half of the financial year and are on track to meet our full year profit expectations.
“We expect that the second half of the year will benefit from the recent improvements we have made in the areas of letting, investment, food development and increased field team support and we remain on track to meet our full year profit expectations.
“We are encouraged by the progress we are making in our discussions with stakeholders on our capital restructuring proposal and believe a consensual restructuring can be launched in the first half of 2013.”
This comes after the firm announced a restructuring plan which it hopes will save the business millions of pounds and release cash for investment.
The proposals include plans to use cash resources from within the firm to remove some of the debt that is currently crippling the company.
This will result in a £463 million debt reduction over the next five years.
Mr Billingham added: “In the short term this will reduce debt by £200 million, will provide a platform for the business to grow and for a multi million pound investment in our pubs over five years.
“This is positive statement and one that we wish to build on. “It is great news for everyone out our Burton headquarters as it shows we have a clear plan for growing the company.
“We are all excited over what is to come.”
Last year, Punch chief executive shockingly quit to take over at Greggs.