Ian Dyson, the chief executive of the Spirit Pub Company, yesterday vigorously defended his decision to demerge Punch Taverns in the summer as he annouced he would step down at its annual meeting in December.
The exit of Mr Dyson, who will be succeeded by Spirit's deputy chief executive Mike Tye, was unveiled alongside the managed pub operator posting a 17 per cent leap in pre-tax profits to £48m for the year to 20 August.
But the leased and tenanted operator Punch Taverns – which is saddled with net debt of £2.59bn – suffered a 16 per cent fall in profits to £76m over the same period.
Asked if he had left behind a "good-pub, bad-pub" legacy, Mr Dyson, a former finance director of Marks & Spencer, said: "I would entirely disagree with that [view]. Both businesses are now in better shape." A strong food performance helped Spirit, which runs brands including Flaming Grill, grow like-for-like sales by 5.2 per cent over the year. This momentum has continued since the year end.