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17/09/1997

Trading update Bass PLC

Trading update Bass PLC

Bass PLC today (Wednesday 17 September) issued a trading update covering the first 48 weeks of the year.

In the interim results announcement on 21 May 1997, Sir Ian Prosser, Chairman, concluded that: "Whilst all our businesses face intense competition in their markets, we continue to perform well overall."

Today he commented: "I am pleased to be able to say that our profits, before exceptional items, reflect the progress expected in the second half."

Hotels

Dollar profits in the continuing business grew in the second half, albeit at a slightly lower rate than in the first half. In the first 11 months, revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the US franchised hotels increased by 6.1 per cent, and in EMEA by eight per cent. The total size of the system continued to grow, resulting in a net increase of 120 hotels (4,300 rooms) in the year to date.

Second quarter earnings to 30 June for the Bristol Hotel Company were $0.22 per share. Following a three for two stock split in June 1997, Bass owns 14 million shares in Bristol, which represents 32 per cent of the company.

At the end of August, Holiday Inn Worldwide changed its Corporate name to Holiday Hospitality. This reflects more accurately the increasing diversity of the Holiday Hospitality business and the brands that it operates.

Leisure Retailing - Bass Taverns

Bass Taverns' managed estate has performed well over the summer months. The rapid roll-out of successful new concepts, such as Edwards, All Bar One and It's A Scream, continues as planned, each having at least 20 outlets open. Trading in our branded estate continues to be good with strong performances in the food brands.

In the first 11 months drinks takings per outlet are up 4.3 per cent and growth in food income is running at over 25 per cent. Machine income to date is running at over eight per cent above last year.

The Bass Lease Company has traded at a level similar to last year.

Leisure Retailing - Bass Leisure

With the exception of Gala, the Leisure businesses continue to make good progress. Coral profits have increased substantially on last year benefiting from the impact of AWP's and Numbers betting, together with some one-off factors. The rate of decline in Gala profits has slowed, with admissions per club running slightly ahead of last year.

Drinks - Bass Brewers

Bass Brewers is performing well, and beer volumes rose by 1.7 per cent in the year to date. Carling Black Label, Worthington Draught Bitter and Carling Premier continue to grow strongly, all showing volume increases in excess of five per cent. Caffrey's has retained its market share despite the shift from premium ales to standard ales following the introduction of cream flow on those products.

Hooper's Hooch remains the clear market leader in the Alcoholic Carbonates sector. However that market has contracted in the United Kingdom and Hooper's Hooch volumes have reduced by 11 per cent over the period. Overseas sales of Hooper's Hooch have increased substantially.

Raw material costs have fallen during the second half. Overall Bass Brewers profits are in line with expectations.

Drinks - Britvic Soft Drinks

Our three leading brands, Pepsi, Robinsons and Tango have all grown volumes as compared with last year. The soft drinks market remains very competitive and the benefit of increasing volumes has been partly offset by a substantial increase in marketing support.

Exceptional Items

Exceptional non-operating items for the year ended 30 September 1997 will include a write-down in the carrying value of bingo assets consequent upon the on-going revaluation and the net cost of the President of the Board of Trade's decision that Bass must not proceed with the Carlsberg-Tetley merger and must dispose of its interest in the company.

Following that decision Bass exercised its put option and sold its stake in Carlsberg-Tetley in August 1997. After exercise of this option and taking into account dividend and royalty income received by Bass in the period of ownership, the net loss on the transaction was approximately £35 million.

Cash Flow

The Group has been cash neutral in the second half to date excluding the proceeds from the sale of hotels to Bristol and the sale of 50 per cent of Carlsberg-Tetley.

Further comment on trading conditions and prospects will be made at the time of Bass' Preliminary Results Announcement on Wednesday 3rd December, 1997.

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For further information, please contact:

Richard North, Finance Director   0171 409 1919
Alastair Scott, Investor Relations   0171 409 8223
Mark Rigby, Media Relations   0171 409 8571

Notes to editors:

Bass PLC is a major UK listed company, which has developed leading business positions in three major industries.
  • Holiday Hospitality Corporation is a leading global hotel company whose brands include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. It operates or franchises more than 2,300 hotels and 390,000 guest rooms in over 60 countries.
  • In pub and leisure retailing, Bass has over 4,000 pubs and a network of branded bingo clubs, betting shops and bowling centres countrywide.
  • Bass Brewers is one of the major UK brewers of branded beers and Britvic Soft Drinks is one of the leading UK producers of branded soft drinks.

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