Pub group Enterprise Inns says it has made a strong start to the year as it reshapes its business in preparation for the end of tied pubs.
The firm said like-for-like net income beat expectations, growing by 1.6 per cent at its leased and tenanted estate for the 19 weeks to 6 February compared with a year ago, driven by rising beer sales and stabilising pub rental incomes.
Rival Greene King – which completed a £774 million takeover of Spirit Pub Company in June – yesterday said like-for-like sales rose by 2.2 per cent in the 40 weeks to 7 February, adding that its merger integration programme was “progressing well”.
Enterprise, the country’s largest pub company with about 5,000 outlets, said last May it would sell up to 1,000 venues over the next five years and boost the number of pubs it manages as a result of Government legislation due to come into force in June.
Since May, it has lifted the number of pubs it manages from 16 and plans to have more than 100 of these outlets by the end of September. It aims to boost this to 850 by 2020. Managed pubs are owned by the group, rather than an individual landlord.
It also continued to expand commercial outlets, run by landlords without a beer tie. The group ran 185 of these pubs in May, and plans to have more than 300 by the end of its financial year in September. It plans to raise this to 1,000 over the next four years.
Chief executive Simon Townsend said: “We are pleased to have made a strong start to the year, delivering continued growth of our leased and tenanted business, and this provides us with confidence that we are on track to deliver our expectations for the full financial year.”
The City expects the group to see annual pre-tax profit edge up by 1 per cent to £123.7 million.
Analysts at Numis said Enterprise Inns had “started well”, notching up a tenth consecutive quarter of growth.