Pub group JD Wetherspoon has moved to reassure shareholders that profits are on track after one of the choppiest trading years in the group's history.
In a year that has seen the company scale back its expansion plans, Wetherspoon's comparable year-on-year sales figures will still be among the highest in the UK managed house sector.
Tim Martin's company said like-for-like sales during the 11-week period to July 13 had risen by 3.5 per cent.
A powerhouse of growth for the past decade, Wetherspoon has not been immune to the downturn in trading.
In November, the company reported flat drinks sales and said it would be renegotiating contracts for pub sites.
Since then, it has reported a gradual improvement in like-for-likes. "This has definitely been the worst year for Wetherspoon as a public company," said Geof Collyer, leisure analyst at Deutsche Bank.
"That said like-for-like sales - the basic measure of any retailer - are still coming through better than anyone else. In reality, Wetherspoon is the only managed player still opening sites on the high street."
The announcement, made days before the end of the group's financial year, said results were expected to be "approximately in line" with forecasts.
The City is forecasting profits of around of £55.7m, a rise of £1.9m on last time. The group's full-year results will be announced on September 5.
Wetherspoon launches Express Bar at Heathrow (31 July 2003)
JDW announces rise in like-for-like sales (22 July 2003)