Yates to sell bars that fail to perform

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The Independent Online

Yates, the struggling bars and pubs group, will sell up to 25 underperforming branches in an attempt to boost trading, which has remained static for the first three months of its financial year.

Yates, which withdrew from takeover talks for the group last month, yesterday promoted Mike Hennessy from vice-chairman to chairman to replace the outgoing chairman and chief executive, Peter Dickson. The group also said it expected to appoint a new finance director "in the near future".

Mr Hennessy, commenting on what he called a "very amicable" reshuffle, said: "Peter decided that a new management team would bring about greater changes and bigger savings." He added that the group, whose main brands are the Wine Lodge and the Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen, is looking to bring more retail talent into the business to improve like-for-like sales.

Last month, Yates reported that profits before tax and exceptional items had dipped to £13.8m, from £15.6m. Mr Hennessy said he would be suspending a £6m refurbishment programme, which had disrupted trading at 40 of Yates's 140 Wine Lodges last year.

Ian Berry, an analyst at Beeson Gregory, said the group was "basically doing all the right things" to improve profitability, "but it would take time". Its shares fell 12.5p to 159p.