Enterprise Inns is less than 10 weeks away from the £609m purchase of those parts of Unique it does not already own, a move that will put it back as Britain's biggest pub company, its chairman said in an AGM statement released this morning. Hubert Reid said that "subject to any unforeseen circumstances", the Enterprise board intended to exercise its call option on the 83% or so of the shares in Unique it does not already own before the end of March. The £609m cost will be funded entirely through debt, Reid said, and Enterprise expects to be writing to shareholders "in due course" to gain approval for the transaction. Reid also said that trading in Enterprise's pubs had been buoyant over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, with strong sales both in the run up to Christmas and during the January re-stocking period. Operating profit and profit before tax for the first quarter were in line with the company's expectations, he said.