Punch Taverns says it now has the necessary “momentum behind” its debt restructuring proposal that aims to slash a quarter off the pub group’s £2.3bn debt burden.
Stephen Billingham, executive chairman of Punch, said: “We have more people on side than we did on June 26. I think the company is optimistic that it is now on the road to completing the restructuring".If I were an investor in Punch, I'd be running scared right now. You see, they've been "optimistic" before.
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.”And didn't that turn out hunky dory, eh? The "great opportunity" led to their business collapsing, and their share price hurtling downwards from £11.50 in July 2007 to such a low that Paddy Power were offering odds-on that they would trade at 1p in 2009.
The FT are well aware of where the blame lies, even if it hasn't registered with Punch yet.
Punch Taverns’ troubles have their roots in structural changes within the pub industry such as the smoking ban and Britons drinking less. Its net debt stood at nearly £5bn at one point.This is what happens when you get in bed with prohibitionist health advocates, Punch. You're not running health clubs; they're not your friends. D'you see?
Still, at least they have recovered from the paltry 10.81p per share value the last time I wrote about them in 2011. Oops, my mistake, no they haven't, it's 9.5p now.
Hmm, perhaps something to do with 31 pubs per week still closing despite all those hordes of extra customers Punch were expecting in 2007?