Punch Taverns reported a 20% drop in first-half profits as consumers continue to cut their spend.
The pub group, which operates about 5,000 pubs, saw profits in the 28 weeks to 3 March 2012 fall by £8m from £41m last year to £33m, as like-for-like net income in its core estate dipped 2.1%.
However, the company said the fall in net income was driven by pubs returned to the group after failing and have been placed under temporary management, with the majority of the estate performing well.
Punch, which following the demerger of its Spirit business is in the process of selling its 2,000 non-core sites, said it remained on track to dispose of between 400 and 500 pubs this financial year. It added that it reduced debt by 3% during the first half of the year by selling 214 pubs and other assets for £62m.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside commented: "Despite weaker consumer market conditions in recent months our teams have worked hard to contain costs and deliver profits in line with our expectations for the first half and we remain on track to meet our full-year profit expectations.
"Notwithstanding the continuing challenging climate we have a clear operational plan to return the core estate to growth in the medium-term and extract maximum value from our non-core assets. We are making progress towards our aim to become the UK's highest quality, most trusted and best value leased pub company and are focused on creating value for our shareholders through successful long-term partnerships with our licensees in our core estate of 3,000 of the highest quality, best invested leased pubs in the country."
By Kerstin Kühn
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