Jennings Brothers, the Cumbrian-based brewer, is to quit running managed pubs, the company said this morning.

The company, which has been badly affected by the impact of foot-and-mouth, said it expected to take " a substantial charge" in the full year from an exit from its 44-pub managed estate.

It said it intended to sell approximately half the pubs within the next six months, "market conditions permitting", and transfer half to its tenanted estate.

Meanwhile Jennings is already selling off 25 smaller tenanted houses, which will leave it with an estate of around 115 tenanted houses. This will then be expanded substantially through the acquisition of "quality outlets", the company said.

Many of the managed outlets being sold are believed to be from the 20 managed pubs in the Cafe Inns estate Jennings acquired in July 1999 for £8.25m.

The company's chairman, John Rudgard, said Jennings going forward will be a significantly different company. Initially, both its turnover and its net assets will be smaller. However, he said, the board was confident of Jennings' ability thereafter to build a growing and increasingly profitable business based on an expanded, high quality tenanted estate and a portfolio of distinctive cask and packaged ale brands attractive to both the free on and off trade marketplaces.

Jennings made the announcement as it unveiled results for the 26 weeks to September 1 2001 showing underlying pre-tax profit down 38% to £1.04m. The figures, a reflection of the impact of foot-and-mouth on the Lake District heart of Jennings' trading area - it owns 70 pubs in Cumbria - are worsened by being compared with a 27-week period last year.

Interim like-for-like operating profit fell 13%, which the board said it considered "creditable in the context of foot and mouth disease on tourism in Jennings' core markets. Net assets per share increased by 2% to 302p.

Jennings said trading since September 1 has been in line with market expectations. There was still evidence of a residual impact of foot-and-mouth on visitor numbers but the impact of September 11 on tourism was still too early to assess. An interim dividend of 2.2p will be paid, and the board forecast a full year dividend of at least 6.1p per share.

Jennings is introducing a new "contemporary style" lease agreement called InnVentures,

which will attract, retain and incentivise high quality operators, it said.

Published 6/11/01