Friendly Hotels encouraged

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The Independent Online
OCCUPANCY levels at Friendly Hotels have picked up so much since the election that the company may increase its final dividend payment, writes Rupert Bruce.

Henry Edwards, chairman, said: 'I think if we can get close to last year's profits or exceed them we will feel that this will be an appropriate basis on which to show confidence and increase the dividend.'

Until April, occupancy levels were worse than during the Gulf war last year. Interim pre-tax profits for the 24 weeks to 14 June fell to pounds 908,000 from pounds 1.35m. Turnover fell to pounds 12.29m from pounds 12.8m.

Basic earnings per share fell to 2.1p from 5.9p, while fully diluted earnings per share fell to 4.3p from 6.4p. The dividend is being held at 2.2p.

The acquisition of Scotch Corner hotel, near Darlington, from the receiver was completed in June.

Friendly plans to build two hotels on motorway junctions near Loughborough and Cardiff, to open in the autumn of 1993. Mr Edwards said he would not be calling on shareholders to finance this.

The shares fell 6p to 104p.

Friendly made full-year pre-tax profits of pounds 3.89m in 1991 and paid a final dividend of 3.3p.