Glass still half empty for Enterprise Inns

Glass still half empty for Enterprise Inns

Enterprise Inns has said trading has stabilised following a collapse in profits in its last fiscal year, but there is no end in sight to the group's pub disposals strategy.

Enterprise said today (20 July) that it expects to meet expectations for its current fiscal full-year.

Trading has "stabilised" over the 42 weeks to 16 July and average profits per pub fell by only 2% on the same period of last year, said Enterprise, which is one of the largest UK pub firms.

Its trading update will bring some cheer to a UK pub sector that is losing between 30 and 35 pubs every week, according to official industry figures.

"Whilst remaining cautious about the underlying economic environment, we expect to deliver results for the full year in line with our expectations," said Enterprise.

But, the group said it plans to dispose of several hundred more pubs as it seeks to put its business on a viable footing and adapt to shrinking on-trade drinks sales in the UK.

Enterprise said it has sold off 402 pubs so far in the current fiscal year, for proceeds of GBP124m (US$189.5m). The sale of a further 102 pubs has been agreed and is pending completion, with proceeds expected to hit GBP29m.
The group has also begun a sale and leaseback programme in London.

"As we continually seek to improve the overall quality of the pub estate, whilst at the same time reducing bank borrowings, we would expect to continue with both the disposal of unviable pubs and the sale and leaseback programme at a similar level during the next financial year," Enterprise said.

For its last fiscal year, to the end of September 2009, Enterprise saw pre-tax profits collapse to GBP11m against GBP209m for the previous year.