Wolves expects property boost

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Wolverhampton and Dudley on Friday said that it was expecting a ?160m increase in the value of the majority of its pub estate.

The UK brewing and pub company, based in he Midlands, said it was finalising an independent valuation of 75 per cent of its property assets and expected to see a 25 per cent uplift in value since the last valuation five years ago.

Its property portfolio aside, Wolves main business also appeared to be showing good growth, as like-for-like sales in the Pathfinder pubs increased from 2.8 per cent in the first half to an estimated 3.2 per cent in the year to October 2.

The performance of the Union Pub Company was even stronger, with like-for-like sales predicted to be up 4.2 per cent in the year.

Margins also remained reassuringly firm, causing the group to predict that full-year results would be in line with expectations. Analysts are expecting profits of about ?77m.

Next year?s profit, however, could be given a boost by new distribution agreements that Wolves has entered into with JD Wetherspoon and Mitchells & Butlers, which will provide volume growth for the Marston?s and Banks brands.

The group said that the integration of Wizard Inns the chain of 63 managed pubs it acquired in June had been completed ahead of schedule and was trading in line with expectations.

The Wizard acquisition gave Wolves a great presence in the south east, but there were concerns that it also gave it exposure to high street pubs, where there has been a bruising price war to keep customers.

Wolves also reported expansion in its Pathfinder Pubs division, having build or acquired five new community pubs in the year, with plans to open a further 20 in the new financial year. The Union Pub Company added to its portfolio with the acquisition of 20 pub in the year.

The group said it was hoping to keep a lid on rising costs that included minimum wage increases, higher prices for Sky TV and soaring energy costs, and are expected to reach ?5m through continued tight controls.

But pointing to Wolves performance, Ralph Findlay, chief executive, said that despite legislative and cost pressures the group was developing good momentum.

Wolves shares were flat at 888p in early London trading.

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