Staffordshire-based Punch Taverns saw losses mount as the value of its pub estate fell – but gave notice of better times ahead.
The Burton-on-Trent group, which currently has more than 6,000 pubs, said underlying profits fell 8.4 per cent to £206 million in the six months to March 5 as its leased division suffered a seven per cent decline in like for like net income.
But a restructuring plan devised under new boss Ian Dyson, who joined from Marks & Spencer last year, will see it close more than 2,500 pubs as it seeks to tackle its £3 billion debt mountain.
There are also plans for a demerger of the 950-strong managed Spirit pubs, which include the Flaming Grill chain.
Regional operations manager Mick Howard said: “The industry has been in double digit decline for the last three to four years but the managed side of our business has shown growth in the first two quarters.
“Pubs have reinvented themselves in the last couple of years – people have upped their game and businesses are sharper and leaner and more professional.”
He said a string of new initiatives from Punch, ranging from new lease agreements to curry nights offering “quality” meals, was helping bolster the future for the group.
Punch, which last month announced plans to demerge its Spirit managed pubs division, said it was confident of making further progress in the second half of the year.
Well-known Punch pubs in Birmingham include leased houses at the Bull in Loveday Street and the Sun on the Hill in Bennetts Hill, and managed establishments at the Garden House in Hagley Road and the Fort Jester in Castle Bromwich.