Ei sales rise as conversion continues of leased & tenanted sites to managed

Ei Group plc, the largest owner and operator of pubs in the UK, has today reported om trading for the 18 weeks to 2 February 2019.

The financial year has started well for the firm's leased and tenanted business with like-for-like net income growth of 2% in the 18 weeks to 2 February 2019. The Christmas trading period was particularly strong and Ei is pleased that trading in January remained in line with our expectations.

While cost pressures are evident across the broader market, the company's continued investment in its leased and tenanted business, combined with proactive publican support, has ensured that income growth momentum has been maintained.

Ei has continued to convert selected pubs from its leased and tenanted business to the managed estate, which now comprises 398 pubs (355 at 30 September 2018). The group expects to continue pub conversions, anticipating approximately 460 managed pubs will be trading in its estate by 30 September 2019.

Pubs that have traded as managed pubs throughout both the 18 weeks to 2 February 2019 and the prior year comparative period delivered like-for-like sales growth of 5.7%, aided by a particularly strong Christmas trading period.

On 11 January 2019, the group announced that it had entered into sale agreements, subject to shareholder approval, with Tavern Propco Ltd in relation to 370 properties comprising public houses and other commercial properties for expected gross aggregate cash consideration of £348m.

Simon Townsend, Chief Executive Officer, commented, 'The year has started well, with growth being maintained across our operating businesses and, despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the consumer environment, we are on track to deliver our plans for the year.

'The proposed disposal of a substantial proportion of our commercial property portfolio is in line with our strategy of unlocking the embedded value from every asset within our business and monetising that value creation for the benefit of all stakeholders.'