Pub operator Ei Group sees shares jump after profit growth

Britain’s biggest pub owner Ei Group has seen profits rise for the half-year on the back of robust drink sales.

Shares fizzed higher in morning trading after the pub company also revealed plans to buy back another £30 million worth of shares. Shares rose 6.2% to 223p.

Underlying pre-tax profits rose by 3.5% to £59 million for the six months to March.

Revenues rose 7% to £353 million during the period, as mild weather helped to drive like-for-like sales growth of 6% in its managed pubs.

In recent months, the company has shifted from leased and tenanted pubs towards those managed and owned by the business.

It increased its managed pub portfolio to 419 by March 31, an increase of 100 on the same period last year.

During the period, the company completed the disposal of 348 commercial properties to make £332.7 million in proceeds, it added.

Ei said the late timing of Easter has helped it to a strong start in the second half of the year, and put it on track to hit full-year expectations.

Simon Tonwsend, chief executive officer, said: “We are pleased with the trading performance of our group for the first half of the year.

“Despite an environment of unprecedented political uncertainty and inflationary pressure from increases in the national minimum and living wage, consumers continue to support their local pub.

“This consumer resilience, combined with excellent operational execution and effective capital investment, provides us with the confidence that we can maintain our growth momentum for the year as a whole, despite some challenging comparative trading periods ahead of us in June and July.”

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