Group calls time on 2,500 pubs to cut debt

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PUNCH Taverns has called last orders for more than 2,500 pubs as part of restructuring plans to tackle its £3bn debt.

The group, which has a number of pubs in Portsmouth, will look to sell the outlets over the next three to five years.

The company will also demerge its estate of own-operated pubs – brands such as Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square and Flaming Grill – by the end of the summer.

Punch’s new boss, the former Marks & Spencer finance director Ian Dyson, said a demerger will boost prospects for the faster-growing Spirit business, which is expected to have a portfolio of around 950 pubs in the future.

The demerger would leave Punch with around 5,200 leased and tenanted pubs, which the company expects to reduce to around 3,000. Another 450 non-core pubs are to be offloaded from the Spirit business. Punch said its current strategy was not sustainable and needed to change give value for shareholders.