Eldridge Pope has exchanged contracts for the sale of 18 pubs for £9.5m.

Seventeen, including five leaseholds, have gone to Unique Pub Company and another has gone to an unidentified private developer.

The sale of the pubs, which made a profit of £672,000 before interest charges in the last financial year, is part of a bigger disposal plan that is scheduled for completion in the first quarter.

The news came with the announcement of trading figures for the first 14 weeks of the year during which time like-for-like sales to January 6 climbed 5.1% despite the floods in October. Like-for-likes for December for the retained business were 11.3% up on last year.