LONDON Feb 6 (Reuters) - British pub group Enterprise Inns said net income growth had continued into its first quarter, as it pushes on with revamping its estate and selling-off underperforming pubs.
Enterprise Inns, landlord to some 5,500 pubs, on Thursday said like-for-like net income rose 1 percent in the 18 weeks to Feb. 1, in line with its expectations but slightly shy of analyst forecasts of 2 percent.
The performance compares with a tougher period a year earlier when severe cold weather hurt trade and Enterprise's business was disrupted by the collapse of a wholesale supplier.
It also comes as Enterprise's founder and chief executive Ted Tuppen ends his 23 years in the role on Thursday. Tuppen, who through a spree of pre-financial crisis acquisitions grew the firm to 8,500 pubs at its peak, is being replaced by Chief Operating Officer Simon Townsend.
Since the credit crisis, the group has been forced to sell off a raft of pubs to help reduce net debt of 3.8 billion pounds. At the year end to Sept. 30, the firm said this now stood at 2.5 billion pounds, adding it expected to raise another 70 million pounds from disposals in its current fiscal year.
More recently, Enterprise has seen trading improve, boosted by a pub refurbishment programme and services like free Wi-fi, with the firm posting its first growth in underlying net income since 2007 in the fourth quarter of its 2013 fiscal year.