Boddington still eyeing Devenish

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BODDINGTON, the North-western pub operator and wholesaler, has confirmed its continuing interest in acquiring JA Devenish, the West Country rival it failed to take over 15 months ago.

Publishing interim profits up 50 per cent, Boddington said its 19.5 per cent stake in Devenish had 'strategic' value. It did not rule out the possibility of rebidding.

However, Boddington said Devenish was only one of a number of opportunities open to it.

Pre-tax profits were pounds 11.3m for the six months to 27 June compared with pounds 7.5m last time. Boddington improved the quality of its pub portfolio and imposed price increases on food and drinks.

The company also reported strong income from gaming machines, a section of pub operation that has been struggling particularly badly.

Boddington also benefited from a jump in profits from wholesaling. The company said there was a 'quantum leap' in wholesaling profits.

Helped by two acquisitions - one in the South-east and one in the North-east - wholesaling contributed pounds 3.1m to trading profits against pounds 529,000 last time.

The stock market gave a muted reaction to the profits leap. The shares rose 3p to 168p.

Earnings per share climbed to 7.3p from 5.2p and the half-yearly dividend is increased to 2.6p from 2.35p.