Punch Taverns puts 300 more pubs on market

Embattled pub chain Punch Taverns today put another 300 of its underperforming premises up for sale.

Punch has appointed Christie, the property agent, to handle the disposal of the pubs – about 70 of which are new to the market with a further 230 being “relaunched” - many at revised prices to stimulate interest.

Punch has more than 8,000 pubs, most of them leased. All of those being put on the market are from the leased division with prices ranging from nil-premium leases to as much as £500,000.

Over 90 per cent of the sites are freehold and most are available with vacant possession.

Neil Morgan, Christie & Co’s Head of Pubs, said: “We expect the majority of these pubs to continue to be operated as licensed premises, although a significant number will provide ideal alternative-use opportunities across the residential, commercial and retail sectors.”

Licensed premises have been under pressure during the downturn with pubs closing at an alarming rate as customers have reigned in their spending.

The company last month said it would transfer another 450 sites to its turnaround unit – set up to give a boost to underperforming pubs - after selling about a third of the 1250 properties placed in it.

It is hoped that the sales will raise proceeds to further reduce the company’s debt mountain which stands at around £3.5 bn, down a £1 bn over the last financial year.

Punch shares which dropped from 1,398p in May 2007 to a low of 28.29 pence at the beginning of the year. However, they closed down 1.3p at 122p which values the group at around £780m.