NewRiver has said its pub portfolio has continued to deliver high occupancy and robust cash returns, in the first quarter of 2019.

It delivered like-for-like EBITDA of +5.5% per pub in Q1, driven by its first full quarter of scale-based synergies since the integration of Hawthorn Leisure in January.

Occupancy rates remained high at 97.6% (March 2019: 97.9%) across tis 661 community pubs.

NewRiver said it believed there were opportunities to extract further value through risk-controlled development. It is currently on site with the redevelopment of the Sea View Inn in Poole, Dorset to deliver a scheme comprising 10 apartments and a Co-op convenience store.

Allan Lockhart, chief executive, said: “We have made a good start to the year despite continued retail sector headwinds, delivering robust operational metrics, with occupancy and average rents remaining stable, footfall outperforming the benchmark, and long-term leasing deals ahead of previous passing rent and estimated rental values.”

He added: “Looking ahead, we remain confident that our diversified portfolio, underpinned by affordable and therefore sustainable rents, and a focus on convenience, value and services, alongside our identified growth strategies, will position us well to weather the current challenges and pursue value-creating opportunities.”