Enterprise Inns profits soar 60% on pub acquisitions

ENTERPRISE INNS, the UK's only listed independent pubs company which owns about 4 per cent of the country's pubs, yesterday reported a 60 per cent rise in its underlying pre-tax profits driven by a series of successful acquisitions.

Ted Tuppen, chief executive, said the group had added 901 pubs to its portfolio in the past financial year and that he was looking forward to further growth. After buying Mayfair Taverns in 1998, the company took over Century Inns in March and acquired another 217 pubs from Bass in June. The group's leased and tenanted pub estate now contains 2,430 outlets.

Enterprise is one of four fast-growing independent UK pub groups, along with Punch Taverns, Pubmaster and Nomura, which have benefited by the large British brewers being forced by government rules to sell off some of their pubs. Analysts say Enterprise and its rivals could go head to head in the race to buy some 600 pubs which Scottish & Newcastle, the UK's biggest brewer, will sell to overcome the Department of Trade and Industry's concerns over its acquisition of Greenalls' pubs businesses.

Enterprise posted pre-tax profit before exceptionals of pounds 36.1m for the year to 30 September on sales up 53 per cent at pounds 123.6m. It announced a final dividend of 6.3p a share, representing a 12 per cent rise in the total annual payout, which reached 9.45p.

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