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Chief executive Brian Stewart
"We are very confident about what can be achieved internationally"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Fire delays Center Parcs sale
Scottish & Newcastle bosses celebrate
S&N's Derek Wilkinson and Brian Stewart celebrate
The sale of the Center Parcs holiday villages has been delayed after a fire at one of its European sites.

Brewers Scottish & Newcastle, which currently owns Center Parcs, broke the news as it unveiled a smaller than expected rise in profits.

The fire at the De Eemhof Center Parcs village in the Netherlands in May means the disposal of the 800m division will be delayed until later in the summer.

Web grab of some established S&N products
Scottish & Newcastle is adding continental strength to its range
S&N had wanted to complete a sale by this week.

Derek Wilkinson, group chief finance director, said the fire would mean "a slight delay in the process".

In May S&N drew up a shortlist of bidders, including three venture capitalists and French group Pierre et Vacances.

S&N has also put its Pontins holiday camps up for sale, which it hopes to complete by the end of the year.

European move

Turnover at the group in the year to 30 April was up 8% to 3.6bn, from 3.3bn in 1999.

S&N's Scottish Courage subsidiary saw turnover grow by 4.7% in the year, boosted by take-home sales over the millennium.

The UK pubs operator and brewer said pre-tax profits, before one-off items, were 415m, up from 402m the year before.

The group's five main brands, including Foster's and John Smith's, now accounting for 74% of total branded volume sold.

S&N said the 1.2bn pub and restaurant acquisition from Greenalls Group last December would result in cost savings of 25m.

Kronenbourg

Chief executive Brian Stewart said the strategic initiatives announced in the last 12 months would bring an increased focus in areas of growth, both in the UK and mainland Europe.

"Inevitably the accelerating pace of change is a challenge for us in the current year, but equally offers tremendous opportunities.

"We are confident that the platform for growth that is being established, along with other opportunities that will become available in a fast consolidating marketplace, will accelerate value growth for our shareholders," he added.

The UK's largest brewer earlier this year agreed to acquire most of French food and drinks firm Danone's brewing interests.

The move will make Scottish & Newcastle one of Europe's largest drinks firms.

The new business will see Kronenbourg and Peroni line up alongside S&N's traditional tipples including Newcastle Brown Ale.

Foster's lager is the second biggest seller in the UK market, Kronenbourg is the leader in France - selling twice as much as its nearest rival - while Peroni is the second biggest seller in Italy.

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