Like-for-like sales at Punch were up 7% over the five-week Christmas period and comparable sales are currently 3% to 3.5% up on a year-on-year basis.

Punch chairman Hugh Osmond said: "We are 100% certain our like-for-like sales are ahead of the majors with the exception of Wetherspoon," he said. JD Wetherspoon reported like-for-like sales up 10% in a five-week period over Christmas.

Osmond said

he was pleased with the progress made turning around the Allied Domecq pub estate, and there were no problems with its banking covenants related to the deal. Punch had paid back some debt ahead of schedule, he said.