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Regent Inns appoints former S&N bosses to revive its fortunes

26 October 2004

Struggling late-night bar operator Regent Inns has announced two top-level appointments on the back of its annual results, which were delayed from last month when it found it had breached the rules of its bank loans.

Bob Ivell and John Leslie, former chairman and finance director for Scottish & Newcastle's pub estate, come on board as executive chairman and chief financial officer respectively.

Their appointment follows the abrupt departures of chief executive Stephen Haupt and finance director Simon Rowe last month.

Current executive chairman Peter Savage will revert to a non-executive director's role, while Paul Felton-Smith will continue as interim finance director.

Regent Inns also revealed today that the banks had agreed to temporarily waive the default on its loans and ensure the group had sufficient funds for current needs as they reviewed its financial position.

In what Savage described as a "challenging and difficult" year to 3 July, Regent Inns boosted turnover by 10.89% to £122.7m, from £110.8m last year.

Pre-tax profits before exceptional items dropped to £12.3m (from £14.4m).

The figures excluded 23 unbranded pubs for sale, of which 14 have been sold and two are close to a sale.

The group reduced the fall in like-for-like sales at Walkabout and Bar Risa/Jongleurs to 5.4% in the second half from 7.4% in the first.

Signs of a tentative recovery emerged from a small rise of 0.9% in like-for-like sales during the first 15 weeks of the new financial year.

Although Jongleurs and its associated Bar Risas performed well, Walkabout had an erratic year, with venues in price-sensitive towns in the Midlands and North of England suffering more than those in London or the South.

Moves to make Walkabout more competitive on price slowed down the decline in like-for-like sales to 2.9% in the second half, but also reduced margins across the branded estate by 2.3%.

Regent Inns opened seven new venues in the first half and converted two unbranded pubs to end the year with 50 Walkabouts, 17 Jongleurs and four Stone House venues.

by Angela Frewin

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