Whitbread sale

WHITBREAD, the hotel and leisure group, yesterday said it had sold 253 smaller pubs to Avebury Taverns for pounds 42.5m in a bid to focus on its larger pubs.

The company sold the leased pubs, part of its Pub Partnerships division, to focus on those operating under its Whitbread Inns division, which are newer and offer better facilities, said spokesman David Reed.

Mr Reed said the restaurant and hotel company planned to hold on to the remaining 1,700 pubs operating under Pub Partnerships. Whitbread makes money from renting the pubs and on the beer sold. The company owns and manages another 1,700 pubs within Whitbread Inns.

The company said the price paid for the pubs was ahead of their book value, but did not specify what that was. Whitbread shares fell 12p to 860p as the benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 1.8 per cent.