Rainy spring dampens down Punch
2 July, 2012
Punch Taverns says it remains on track for its year’s forecasts despite a drop in sales in its third quarter. It blamed tough comparatives and poor weather for the performance.
Punch said sales across its core estate in the 12 weeks to 26 May were 6.4% down on the same period last year. The quarter pushed its performance over the 40 weeks to the same date to 3.4% down year on year.
Punch pointed out that the same period in 2011 benefited from both good weather and the long weekend around the Royal Wedding, while this April was one of the wettest on record. It said underlying performance remained strong, with like for like net income among pubs on full substantive agreements down by only 1% over the 40 weeks to end-May. The fourth quarter had started strongly, it added, thanks to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend and the Euro 2012 football championships.
Punch Taverns CEO Roger Whiteside said: “Having worked hard to contain costs, we remain on track to meet management’s full year profit expectations. Our anticipation of a difficult third quarter, because of strong comparatives last year, has been compounded by the exceptional wet weather this year. Encouragingly, we have made a good start to our fourth quarter and notwithstanding recent difficult market conditions, the underlying business remains robust. We have a clear operational plan to return the core estate to growth in the medium-term and we remain on-track to maximise value from our non-core assets.”
Punch’s strategy on non-core assets has seen it sell 349 pubs over the first 40 weeks of its financial year, for net proceeds of £95m. It will dispose of 400 to 500 pubs over the financial year as a whole. Its core estate comprises 2,942 pubs, while 1,713 pubs remain in its non-core category.