Punch says sales holding up as debt talks drag on

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Pubs operator Punch Taverns today reiterated its warning that it risks defaulting on its £2.3 billion debt pile unless bondholders agree to a restructuring as it eyes a rise in first-half sales.

The group, which is due to report its half-year results towards the end of April, said like-for-like sales at its core estate is on track to grow by 1.5 per cent, while it expects to generate about £100 million by selling unwanted pubs.

While executive chairman Stephen Billingham said Punch continued its attempts to thrash out a deal with bondholders, he warned of a “material negative impact” if an agreement cannot be reached.

Billingham said: “We are convinced that a consensual restructuring is by far the best outcome for all stakeholders, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to reach a consensus on the restructuring.

“No-one can be in any doubt about the consequences of failing to agree a consensual deal.”