Independent craft brewers are continuing to enjoy growth, with Fuller Smith and Turner enjoying a strong summer.
With customers moving away from standard pubs towards gastropubs and high-end drinks, current trends have played to the West London brewer’s strengths.
Fullers, which makes London Pride and ESB, has put strong growth down to the higher margins made on craft beer brands. Fuller has grown its profit, before exceptional items by eight per cent, while revenue has gone up by 11 per cent. Pre-tax profit growth is up by six per cent, taking it to £22.8 million.
The 193 pubs and hotels which are managed by Fuller made the most . Food sales were up by 3.6 per cent while sales for drinks and accommodation went up by 3.3 per cent.
However, Fuller pubs which are currently tenanted did not fare so well, reporting a one per cent drop in operating profits along with a two per cent decrease in like-for-like sales.
Fuller now says that the interim for shareholders will increase, driving by strong sales, making the interim dividend 7.25p, a rise of five per cent.
Simon Emeny, who has been CEO at Fuller for 20 years said that the chain had achieved growth, even despite a strong 2015, which included the Rugby World Cup, hot weather and a later Easter.
However, he said Fuller would not be resting on its laurels amid challenging times ahead for the brewing and pub industry.
Mr Emeny said: “We have had a good start to the year and our managed pubs and hotels, which represent the largest share of our profits, have yet again led the way with a rise in like-for-like sales that has outperformed the market.
“There is no doubt that the UK economy is facing some significant challenges. The impact of increases in business rates and the National Living Wage, combined with uncertainty around the UK’s departure from the EU, make for changing times ahead. However, Fuller’s has a long-term, strategic vision, a solid balance sheet and a predominantly freehold estate, which is well-invested and supported by excellent, engaged team members and dedicated, skilled management.”
The firm says it is preparing for the introduction of the national living wage by introducing it early to some employees, so it does not have to face a huge wage bill rise in one go.
Fullers said its recent investments showed its confidence in the industry and the year ahead. It has just ploughed in a £28.6 million injection into the firm, including buying two iconic pubs in London; The Gun in Docklands, and the Half Moon in Herne Hill.