Pubs operator Punch Taverns has said it is looking forward to a World Cup boost as it unveiled a rise in profits.
Punch hopes the public's thirst for the World Cup will boost business
Profit before tax and one-off items rose to £116m in the six months to 4 March, compared with £103m last year.
Sales across the group - which acquired 1,830 pubs from Spirit in January - jumped 53% to £619m during the period.
Punch forecast a good performance for the rest of the year, predicting a rise in customer numbers during the World Cup football tournament.
The group added it would be launching a series of special food and non-alcoholic drink promotions to tie-in with the sporting event.
"World Cups are positive for Punch because people go to the pub to watch football, and when you own more than 9,500 pubs that is a lot of people," a Punch spokesman said.
Elsewhere in the business, the group said it was well on the way to transforming the Spirit business, which it snapped up in a £2.7bn deal.
Punch plans to transfer most of the Spirit estate to leases that will be managed independently, but it has also sold 29 managed Spirit pubs and expects to sell a further 380 over the next six months.
"This will leave a very high quality, robust estate of around 680 managed pubs, which we intend to consolidate into a valuable trading asset," Punch said.
While the group said it was still too early to assess the impact of a smoking ban that came into force in Scotland in March - it did add that its Scottish results had been encouraging so far.