Punch Taverns has released its interim results for the 28 weeks to 1 March 2008. The company which owns over 8,400 pubs in the UK said that its pre-tax profits increased 1.0 per cent to £133 million compared to the same period last year.

Punch said that its results reflected a 9.0 per cent reduction in the size of its estate following non-core disinvestments in 2007.

The company said its interim dividend had risen 8.0 per cent to 5.5 pence per share.

Punch said that it had invested £84 million on enhancing over 950 of its pubs in the period, and that it was on target to make cost savings of around £10 million in the current financial year.

Giles Thorley, chief executive of Punch Taverns, said, It is testament to the operational and estate strategy implemented over the past two years that we have delivered underlying profit growth with a significantly smaller estate. This strong performance has been achieved despite a weaker trading environment across the industry.

He continued, Whilst we remain cautious over short-term trading conditions for the sector, we are confident that we are well positioned as we move into a more positive environment over the summer months and pass the anniversary of the smoking bans in England and Wales.