Profits race ahead at Brands Hatch

SHARES in Brands Hatch Leisure jumped 13 per cent yesterday as the race track operator issued a strong set of results and a bullish trading update.

Booming demand for corporate entertainment at Brands Hatch, record attendances for racing events and the opening of a rally school at Oulton Park helped lift operating profits by 33 per cent to pounds 2m in the six months to June. Meanwhile Sir Rodney Walker, the chairman, said the company's full-year profits were likely to be "materially ahead of current stock market expectations."

Brands Hatch said the World Superbike event had attracted the biggest bike audience in the world to date, while a record-breaking crowd had showed up to watch the Bank Holiday touring cars race.

Brands Hatch shares were also boosted by share buying by Nicola Foulston, the chief executive, and Roger North, the finance director. A trust set up by Ms Foulston yesterday bought 184,280 shares at 160p, taking her stake in Brands Hatch to almost 16 per cent. Meanwhile Mr North bought 10,000 shares at 162p, trebling his shareholding in the company.

The shares closed up 19.5p at 164.5p.