Embattled pubs group Punch Taverns said a demerger of its Spirit unit was one of the options it considered in a strategic review initiated to find ways to cut its 3 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) debt.Crikey! How things have changed since those chipper comments in 2007, eh?
Punch's tenanted pubs have been hit by a UK smoking ban, duty increases and the economic downturn and Dyson had previously said he wanted to reduce the estate from a peak of 7,500 pubs to a core of 4,700.
Punch shares, which have slumped from a high of 1,150 pence in 2007, were up 4.9 percent to 72.3 pence at 1356GMT, valuing the business at 465 million pounds, well below the level of the company's debt.
Francis Patton, [Punch Taverns] customer services director said: “Too many people are looking at the smoking ban as a threat, but we know this is a huge opportunity. The smoking ban is a great opportunity to get new customers (who want to eat) into pubs and also keep people there who go regularly.”Pffft!
And the best bit?
Punch said a number of options had been considered as part of a review of its strategy, performance and structure including a spin-off of its Spirit unit.Fighting back against one of the fundamental, state-enforced, reasons for their predicament might bring them a more profitable result. But they seem intent on continuing to make us laugh, bless 'em.