England may have crashed out of Euro 2004 last week, but the football tournament has been substantially helping the pub trade, operator Honeycombe Leisure said today.
While the unseasonal summer weather has meant fewer people are drinking outdoors, the demand to watch David Beckham and company over a pint has pushed like-for-like sales at Honeycombe up by 1.5% on last year, said chairman Sandy Anderson.
Overall, for the year to 2 May, the chain reported a 2% increase in turnover, to £33.65m, from £32.97m last year.
Pre-tax profits for the year came in a £1.8m, slightly up on last year's £1.76m.
The picture is significantly rosier than at the half-year stage, when the chain posted a pre-tax loss of £17,000.
The improvement in the second half was largely down to improved trading, said Anderson, and more money coming in from management contracts.
The chain, which now manages or owns 95 pubs and is aiming for 100 soon, has been in transition, focusing more on agreeing management contracts with rivals rather than building up its own portfolio of pubs.
Recent contracts include, last December, agreement with the Great English Pub Company to manage all six of its Ma Hubbards sites.
And in July last year it struck a deal with Nectar Taverns to manage its 17-strong chain of unbranded pubs in the north of England and Wales.
In February last year, the chain agreed a £11.7m "sale-and-manageback" deal with Punch Taverns on 12 of its freehold pubs.
The first management contract from this deal was agreed in November and terms had been agreed on a further two.
by Nic Paton
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