Enterprise has blamed a 9% reduction in the average number of pubs in its estate for a 2% fall in like-for-like sales and a 14% drop in pre-tax profit for the six months to 31 March 2011.
Pre-tax profit before exceptionals was down to £74m compared with £86m last year. Revenue stood at £346m.
A tough start to the half year as a result of faltering consumer confidence and poor winter weather knocked average income per pub but that was offset with 1% growth in both February and March as weather conditions improved. As a result it held firm at £31,200 - consistent with the same period last year.
Commenting on the figures, chief executive Ted Tuppen said: "We have achieved a solid set of results, in line with our expectations. Headline numbers are impacted by a 9% reduction in the average number of pubs in our portfolio and higher leasehold costs, reflecting our successful sale and leaseback programme. I am pleased that average net income per pub has remained stable despite very challenging conditions across the pub sector during the first half of our financial year.
"The second half of the year has started well, with fine weather over Easter and the Bank Holiday weekend providing our publicans with a welcome boost to trade. Whilst we expect trading conditions to remain challenging, we are confident in our strategy and expect that the quality of our pub estate and the resilience of our publicans will ensure that we deliver results for the full year in line with our expectations."
The company also invested £30m in its estate over the period, and raised £47m from the sale of 212 pubs along with other property assets. It said it expected to sell around 500 pubs in the full year, by the end of which its disposal programme will be largely complete.
In addition, Enterprise raised £247m from its sale and leaseback programme, which saw it sell 71 high-value pubs in London in the first half of the year. April and May saw it sell another 34 pubs.
Net debt as at 31 March was £3.1b compared with £3.5b at the same time last year.
By Neil Gerrard
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