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Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 14:45 GMT


Bass calls time on bingo

The brewing giant, Bass, has unveiled plans to create 5,000 new jobs as part of a 680m investment programme, which will include a massive expansion of its chain of pubs.

It follows a slump in profits from the company's chain of bingo halls.

Nearly half of the investment and most of the jobs will focus on Bass Taverns' managed pubs whose operations include Harvester, Toby and O'Neill's pubs.

The group said it would open new pubs and upgrade existing pubs over the next year in a 300m project. No numbers of pubs were given but the scheme will be nationwide.

Other pub chains included in the expansion plans are its Vintage Inns, It's A Scream student pubs and All Bar One outlets. Its community pubs are also included in the programme.

Remaining jobs will be created in the expansion of the group's other leisure businesses including its Hollywood bowling alleys.

Chairman Sir Ian Prosser said: "We will continue to focus and redeploy our resources towards our higher growth brands."

The move comes as the Government blocks Bass's planned merger with Carlsberg-Tetley. The ailing bingo business has also hit profits.

Pre-tax profits, after one-off costs, fell from 671m to 477m in the year to September 30, with turnover up from 5.1bn to 5.2bn.

Despite the fall in profits, the group said its underlying operating profits rose by nearly 6% to 796m and shareholders have been rewarded with a 10% rise in their dividend payout, taking it to 27.5p.

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