Ushers revises plans to float on market

Ushers of Trowbridge is having a second stab at floating on the stock market, two years after its first attempt was pulled. News of the planned issue, which is expected to give the regional brewer a market value of up to pounds 130m when shares start trading in February or March, accompanied results for the year to October showing a 9 per cent rise in operating profits to pounds 16.9m.

Ushers first tried to come to market three years after a management buy- in from Grand Metropolitan was followed by the acquisition of a 430-strong pub estate from Courage. Market conditions were against the first attempt, compounded by worries that a brewing contract with Courage would expire without the business being replaced.

Roger North, chief executive, said yesterday Ushers had created a strong contract brewing business to replace the Courage contract which ran out in November. Ushers has rebranded and refurbished its estate, which numbers 542 mainly tenanted pubs. The brewer's own ales have been introduced throughout the pub chain and Ushers' beers account for 65 per cent of sales from a standing start.