Spirit set to cheer pub market with rise in profits despite the gloom mongers

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The Independent Online

Signs of life in the great British boozer should emerge this week when the Spirit Pub Company cheers the sector with upbeat profit figures.

The most depressed voices in the saloon bar have been predicting the end of the pub trade for some time, given the huge number of closures that followed the financial crisis and the recession.

A year ago, Britain's largest pub group, Punch Taverns, split its managed and leased pubs into two separate companies in what was probably a last-ditch attempt to turn around its fortunes amid a complex financial structure that saw it burdened with massive debts.

Spirit Pub Company – made up of around 800 managed pubs – reports full-year results on Tuesday with City analysts predicting a 16 per cent jump in profits to £51m.

That it is able to do so in the face of intense competition from cheap supermarket booze will increase suggestions that the structure of the industry is at least as much to blame for its woes as taxation and regulation.

Pubs managed and run by the parent companies have lately done much better than leased pubs run by freelance landlords that pay rent and buy beer from the parent.

Numis Securities says the shares, at 59p on Friday, are worth 80p.

Analyst Douglas Jack says the results will show "strong growth, falling debt and the potential for further growth".