Pre-tax profits at Old English Inns halved during the year ended 1 April, down from £5.9m to £2.8m.

The company blamed the fuel crisis, foot-and-mouth, floods and general bad weather for the drop.

Turnover increased to £70.4m, compared with £69.5m for the previous year.

Accommodation accounted for £15.5m and food and drink for £53.6m

Chairman Eric Walters described the results as “disappointing”. He said: “First was the fuel crisis in September, which resulted in a considerable number of cancellations.

“This was followed by some of the worst flooding in the country for more than 20 years, which resulted in six of our businesses being closed for up to two weeks and a further two until the spring.”

He said up to 80 of the group’s rural properties (representing more than 60% of its core estate), had been affected by foot-and-mouth.

Old English Inns operates 139 businesses, of which 94 are inns with rooms.

It has 1,914 bedrooms, with average revenue per available room (revpar) of £21.67, up from £19.12 in 2000.

Average occupancy for 2001 was 58% and average room rate was £37.52.

During the year, Old English Inns bought the 40-bedroom Royal Hotel in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, for £900,000 and the 40-bedroom Millers hotel in Sibson, Leicestershire, for £1.7m.

It sold 25 pubs for £13m.

Walters said business for the coming months looked promising.

by Andrew Davies

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