Pub firm Ei Group has reported stable profit of £122m in its preliminary financial results for the year ended 30 September 2018.
Following profit of £121m in 2017, 2018 saw lower interest costs resulting from reduced levels of debt. Earnings were also level at £287m, in line with expectations and supported by the good summer weather and success of England in the FIFA World Cup, adding an estimated £2m in income.
Like-for-like net income was up 1.2% with growth across all geographic regions, while average net income per pub was up 2.3% to £81,400.
The group continues to explore opportunities to sell its 412-strong commercial property portfolio which chief executive Simon Townsend said had received indications of "considerable interest", while the new financial year is described as "starting well".
Townsend added: "2018 has been a notable year for the group, as the strategic plan we launched in 2015 has evolved and matured to the extent that our implementation of the strategy is now ‘business as usual'…
"Notwithstanding the wider uncertainty that prevails across the UK currently, our strategy and our flexible business models provide us with the confidence that we can continue to deliver like-for-like net income growth for the current year in our publican partnerships and commercial properties businesses, and like-for-like sales growth in our expanding managed businesses.
"We continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that the group's capital structure enables and supports our objective to deliver attractive and sustainable returns for shareholders, as demonstrated by today's announcement to initiate a further share buyback programme of up to £20m.
"Our strategic plan is on track and we remain focussed on driving long-term growth in shareholder value."
As at 30 September 2018, Ei Group had 3,718 (2017: 4,051) pubs trading within its leased and tenanted estate.