Investors in British Country Inns (BCI) will be told shortly after its annual general meeting later this month whether its directors think the company should be sold. BCI is a group of four companies, comprising a total of around 30 pubs. Over £30 million was raised by Smith & Williamson for BCI via the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) between 2005 and 2007 to buy pubs with a view to creating a portfolio to sell on at a premium. However, investors in BCI have been told by directors that the market place “is now very different” to the one that prevailed when BCI was set up - and there has been a “dramatic fall over the last three years in the market value of public houses”. In the most recent financial year to 29 January 2011, the combined four BCI companies had a turnover of £11,994,882, marginally down from £12,019,575 the year before. Total combined house trading profit (before central costs, depreciation and interest) was £979,000 compared to £816,400 the year before. But a major impairment review was carried out again which resulted in an overall loss before tax of £4,197,537. In a report to investors ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on 30 June, the directors state: “The board believes your company has two options - either to liquidate all of the company’s assets at the best price currently achievable or to continue trading in the hope that the market will improve in the medium term.” The board has placed British Country Inns 1, with a turnover of £3,866,512 (compared to £4,001,132 the year before) and a house trading profit of £318,100 (compared to £284,600 the year before), on the market “to clarify its current value” and to allow a recommendation after the AGM. The BCI concept is quality food-led country inns, with a management team led by Peter Mathews and Tim Udell, who between them have many years of operational experience in the pub industry and were the management team behind the successful English Country Inns Group, which was sold to Marston’s in 2005. Food sales at BCI are currently around 60% of turnover. Non-executive chairman of the BCI boards in Anthony Miller, a founding director of HLL Humberts Leisure and a leading specialist in the valuation of pubs. Among the pubs British Country Inns acquired in 2006 to 2008 is the Swan, at Forton, Shropshire, which was bought off an asking price of £1.275m. It sits in British Country Inns 3, where the most recent accounts state it produced “good results again”.