Britain's largest and oldest group of pubs Punch Taverns has revealed that pre-tax profits plummeted by 23% in the 2013 financial year.

The group, which has a portfolio of around 4,300 pubs to lease nationwide, announced in its full-year earnings that pre-tax profits fell to £49m (€58m, $78m) from £64m in 2012.

Revenue also slid by 7% to £458m.

However, Punch said in a statement that it eyes a return to like-for-like net income growth of up to 1% in 2014. It added that there are improving like-for-like trends in net income.

"We have delivered profits for the year in line with our expectations and returned the core estate to growth in the most recent quarter. We have made excellent progress in implementing operational changes during the course of the year and this is reflected in our recent financial performance," said Stephen Billingham, Executive Chairman of Punch Taverns in a company statement.

"Pubs in which we have invested have shown significant improvement in performance and the core division accounts for over 80% of Group Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA).

"Expectations of future net income growth for the core estate remain unchanged from those previously announced, with a return to like-for-like net income growth of up to 1% expected in the 2014 financial year."

Pubs Fight for Survival

According to the latest data from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), 16 pubs a week close in Britain as over the past two years 1,078 pubs have disappeared from the UK.

IPPR called for a business rate relief of 50% for pubs that "act as local community hubs", a minimum price on units of alcohol to stop them being too far undercut by off-licences and more freedom for landlords of pubs owned by big chains, among other recommendations.

However, there was no mention of the controversial smoking ban, introduced in 2007, which campaigners say has forced many pubs to close.

"Government must stop using a one-size-fits-all approach to licensed premises, which is killing off our community pubs," said IPPR associate director Rick Muir at the time.

"Instead, responsible well-run community pubs should be encouraged and supported.

"Our research shows community pubs aren't just places to drink but also places where people meet their neighbours, where local clubs hold meetings and events, and which support many important local services, such as village post offices and general stores."