CAFE de Coral Holdings maintained thin growth in interim profits through exceptional gains from the disposal of outlets. The catering chain's results fell within market expectations, as sluggish consumer spending continued to batter profit margins in the restaurant business. The group recorded a 20.9 per cent drop in pre-tax profits for the six months to September 30 this year. The interim attributable profits only saw a growth after the sale of property units and restaurant outlets. At least one restaurant in the Ah Yee Leng Tong Chinese chain has been scrapped. Profits before tax and exceptional items stood at $50.9 million, against $64.4 million in the year-earlier period. Attributable profits were boosted by a $20.1 million exceptional income from property disposals. Net profit increased to $62.85 million after exceptional earnings, showing a rise in interim profit of 11.22 per cent. Turnover amounted to $1.01 billion, representing a 5.1 per cent growth from last year's $964.6 million. Weighted average earnings per share stood at $1.209, up 11.53 per cent from $1.084. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 3.5 cents a share, the same as the previous year. Managing director Michael Chan said the disposals were part of a company strategy to consolidate operation outlets. 'We are trying to consolidate our properties by downsizing some large outlets and closing some shops that are no longer profitable due to changes in environment,' Mr Chan said. The number of restaurant and fast-food outlets had not been reduced as a result of the consolidation. The group owns 177 outlets, adding one shop to last year's total. Mr Chan believed the performance was satisfactory, as the group was still generating profits while many of its competitors experienced a downturn due to the retail slowdown. 'There were reports that about 1,000 catering outlets were closed in the first half of this year. We think this is an opportunity for us to increase our market share.' The group claimed its market share had risen by 2per cent during the second quarter of 1995. SBC Warburg group analyst Alexandra Mackasey said the performance was within market expectations in view of feeble consumer sentiment.