Cheer at Surrey Free Inns as profits leap 72%

Surrey Free Inns justified its sparkling performance on the Alternative Investment Market since the middle of 1995 with a 72 per cent jump in pre-tax profits in the half-year to November. The creator of the Litten Tree chain of pubs slipped 7.5p to 422.5p on profit-taking yesterday but the shares have still risen more than six-fold in 18 months from a low of 70p.

Tony Hill, managing director, said: "We have had an excellent start to the year, demand at all our new sites is meeting expectations and our development programme is on track."

Pre-tax profits of pounds 1.04m compared with pounds 600,000 in the comparable period in 1995, struck from a 19 per cent increase in sales to pounds 6.9m. Earnings per share increased by 45 per cent to 8.7p and the interim dividend rose 25 per cent to 1.25p.

Mr Hill said Surrey Free Inns, which started life 10 years ago as a property- based BES scheme investment, was piloting a branded cafe concept to be called Bar Med to run alongside the Litten Tree pubs. He said running out a second brand would allow the company to double its exposure in fashionable areas such as Chelsea and Fulham, where the market could not sustain two of its large-scale pubs.

A move up from AIM to the main market is planned for this year to distance the company from a market which has underperformed the main market in recent months.

Mr Hill said tax relief enjoyed by some Surrey shareholders would not be affected by the move.

The Litten Tree pubs, described as a cross between JD Wetherspoon and Yates Wine Lodges, have succeeded in generating high returns on capital employed by segregating its aircraft hangar-sized outlets into different areas to cater for drinking, eating, watching television and business meetings at different times of the day.

Throughout the day the atmosphere and lighting are changed so that a room used for drinking coffee in the morning might become a dancing venue for a younger crowd in the evening. By constantly shifting activities in the pub, Surrey aims to maximise the number of customers passing through a fairly fixed-cost base.

According to Mr Hill, trading continues strong at both outlets and the new sites opened over the past year.

He said Surrey was well on the way to achieving its target of at least eight new developments during 1997.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Stockbroker

£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence