Punch Taverns' big headache

With a crippling debt hangover, could closing time be approaching for the UK's second largest pub chain?

Formative years

Punch Taverns opened its doors in 1997, a time before the smoking ban when street-corner boozers were still two a penny. Big brewers were disposing of their tied pubs, so Hugh Osmond (former boss of Pizza Express) teamed up with Cafe Rouge co-founder Roger Myers to create a vehicle to buy them. First across the bar was the Bass pub estate in 1997, followed two years later by the £3bn acquisition of Allied Domecq's pubs.

After that deal, Punch spun out its managed pubs into a separate business, the Spirit Group, and then floated itself on the LSE.

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