Enterprise Inns toasts end of wintery snap

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RECENT milder weather has handed a much-needed boost to Britain’s biggest pub landlord after the freezing winter kept drinkers away and drove half-year sales 4.2 per cent lower.

Enterprise Inns, which leases out more than 6,000 pubs across England and Wales, said trade during the six months to 31 March was “particularly challenging”, with pre-tax profits shrinking by 14 per cent to £55 million.

The firm said recently-improved trading has slowed the like-for-like sales slide to 1 per cent, boosting its hopes of a return to underlying sales growth in its second half.

The coldest spring since 1952 combined with weak consumer spending and the ongoing disposal of pubs to drag half-year sales nearly 9 per cent lower to £312m.

It sold a further 161 outlets during the six months, raising £54m to reduce its debt mountain to £2.7 billion. Enterprise expects to sell pubs worth £150m this year.

The group also spent £29m on sprucing up 260 sites and expects to complete a further 600 pubs this year.