The battle for ownership of Scottish & Newcastle's managed pub estate has begun with interested parties sent information memoranda. Leisure entrepreneurs Trevor Hemmings and Hugh Osmond, operators such as Mitchells & Butlers and Laurel Pub Company and a host of private equity companies will be studying details prior to bids. The sale process, which will be complete by the end of 2003, began as the company reported that its 1,500-strong estate had seen "robust" sales for its full year, with a negligible 0.6% decline in like-for-likes. Food sales had provided the biggest prop to like-for-likes with uninvested Chef & Brewer sites enjoying a 5.5% boost and food sales up 7.8%. The company insisted that its high quality brands had allowed it to avoid "significant" discounting. Elsewhere, the company's Scottish Courage admitted its pub customers had seen service levels below the company's own expectations after a major re-organisation of its suppy chain. Extra management staff have been sent to distribution centres to sort out the current problems. The brewing operation saw profits dive nearly 9% to £186.1m after its supply chain problems described as "deeply disappointing" by chief executive Tony Froggatt. The managed pub division boosted profit by 6.5% to £227.7m for the full year ending on 27 April. l S&N said it has received regulatory approval to retain all of Beer Sellar. Observers believe a full trade sale is still likely.