Belfast Telegraph

Punch Taverns reports fall in earnings from £105m to £94m

Punch Taverns has said underlying earnings fell from £105 million to £94 million in the first half of the year.

Like-for-like net income at the pubs company grew 1.6% and average profit per pub was around 3% higher than a year earlier.

The firm said it had sold off a number of less profitable pubs as it attempts to cut its £1.4 billion debt pile. Punch said it had sold £288 million of its estate over the past 18 months.

Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Punch Taverns, said: "We are already making good progress delivering on the strategy we set out in November 2015. We have launched new operating models, renewed our focus on customer service and delivered improved support to our publicans."

In 2014 the firm went through a painful restructuring.

Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said there was cause for optimism.

"Investors can take encouragement from tangible progress in a number of key areas. This includes continued underlying growth in the core estate and improved balance sheet strength," he said

Shares were up 6% in morning trading.