- Pub owner EI Group booked a 71% slump in first-half profit after rising sales were more than offset by losses on property disposals and finance costs.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through March fell to £13m, down from £45 on-year, even as revenue rose 7.0% to £353m.

Underlying profit rose 3.5% to £59m.

EI Group did not declare an interim dividend, though it did launch an additional £30m share buyback to deliver a total programme of £85m in the current year.

'We are pleased with the trading performance of our Group for the first half of the year,' chief executive Simon Townsend said.

'We continue to deliver sustained like-for-like net income growth within our core publican partnerships business and are generating strong returns as we expand our managed operations and managed investments businesses.'

'Despite an environment of unprecedented political uncertainty and inflationary pressure from increases in the national minimum and living wage, consumers continue to support their local pub.'

'This consumer resilience, combined with excellent operational execution and effective capital investment, provides us with the confidence that we can maintain our growth momentum for the year as a whole, despite some challenging comparative trading periods ahead of us in June and July.'

'The completion of the disposal of 348 commercial properties in March represented a significant milestone for the group.'

'We have demonstrated our ability to grow value through the transfer of assets to their optimum use and then to unlock that value through monetisation providing evidence of our strategy in action.'

'We are using the significant cash proceeds received from the transaction to accelerate our debt reduction plans and to deliver value to our shareholders.'

'We are pleased to announce today a further £30m share buyback programme, in addition to the £55m programmes previously announced in this financial year.'

At 4:15pm: [LON:EIG] EI Group Plc share price was +12.6p at 222.6p

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