Punch sets disposals target as restructure continues

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restructuring, Income, Public house

Punch disposed of 433 pubs in its financial year to 17 August
Punch disposed of 433 pubs in its financial year to 17 August
Punch Taverns is likely to slow down its disposals to between 300 and 350 in 2014, says finance director Steve Dando, who also said he’s “confident” that the company’s debt restructure will occur in the second half of 2013.

Last week Punch announced a new deadline of the second half of 2013 to complete its restructure and Dando said: “Extending the deadline gives us more time to talk to people.

“I don’t think anything has changed in the attitude of people, we just need more time.”

Today (13 September), Punch has revealed that a committee of its senior bondholders, under the auspices of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which earlier this year described the pub company’s restructuring proposals as being “some distance away from being acceptable to us”, has now joined the process of engagement regarding its debt restructuring.

Asked how confident he was that it would be resolved in the new time frame, Dando said: “We are confident. We missed the first timetable but we are pretty confident of being able to deliver [within the new timetable].”

Dando added revised proposals for the restructure would need to be published before the process is completed, saying: “We are talking about a number of months.”

Inaccurate

This summer a committee of senior Punch bondholders under the auspices of the Association of British Insurers said new proposals for the restructure were “some distance” from being acceptable, with some parts “vague” and “not fully formed”.

Punch later said some of the committee’s statements were “inaccurate”.

Punch disposed of 433 pubs in its financial year to 17 August. Dando said: “We’ve still got 1,100 pubs in the non-core division. I would expect we would sell somewhere in the region of 300 to 350 pubs next year.”

Punch reported its first quarter of net income growth since its demerger from Spirit in the 12 weeks to 17 August, with core estate net income up 0.4%. Dando said the good weather has helped but there was also “steady underlying growth” in the businesses.

Impact

Punch said 48 pubs have so far been converted to its ‘Punch Foundation Tenancy’ agreement — a franchise-style scheme for newcomers.

Dando said the company still hoped to have c.200 pubs under the agreement by the end of next year.

“The uplift in sales has been significant in these pubs,” he added. “The fact we’ve got a dedicated field specialist working with the new partners, week in week out, helping them in the first six months of operation, backed up by all the support we have, has a massive impact on the partners.”

Related topics: Punch Pubs & Co

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