Eldridge tops up

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ELDRIDGE Pope, the Dorset- based brewer, has continued to recover, reporting increased profits from pounds 901,000 to pounds 1.76m before tax for the year to 30 September, writes John Shepherd.

The results, and a near 8 per cent dividend increase to 3.55p, found favour in the City. The shares rose 8p to 133p - a high for 1993.

Christopher Pope, chairman of the USM-quoted company, said: 'There are now considerably brighter prospects for the company.'

Eldridge ran into big problems at the end of the Eighties, mainly because of its hotel and computer interests, which pushed it more than pounds 8m into the red.

In 1992/93, Mr Pope said, trading in the pub sector remained difficult, with growth in profitability coming from investment and improved management controls. 'The larger houses with established food trade have performed better than smaller pubs.'

He said that the full benefits of the trading alliance with Carlsberg- Tetley, the third-largest brewer in the UK, would only begin to be felt next spring and summer. 'Sales of their lager brands are building up well in our tied estate, and our brewing contracts to them should be fully on stream by then,' he said.

The underlying trend in trade remains 'somewhat flat' in the early months of this year. However, Mr Pope added: 'We continue to make progress at the trading level and will benefit further from lower interest rates.' Interest costs in 1992/93 fell from pounds 1.6m to pounds 2.1m.