Fuller hits out at big brewers: Family-run firm scores gains in free trade

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The Independent Online
DIRECTORS of Fuller Smith & Turner yesterday seized the opportunity to lambast the Government, the European Commission, the Stock Exchange and the big brewers when reporting full-year results.

Anthony Fuller, chairman of the family-controlled brewer in west London, said: 'In our view the secondary market (the Unlisted Securities Market) is required and we would like to be part of that.'

His remarks were targeted at Stock Exchange mandarins who want to scrap the USM. A big benefit of the market is the inheritance tax allowance on shares in family companies.

Next on the agenda were the Beer Orders. 'They were a nonsense, but Mr Heseltine in his wisdom decided to do nothing and pass the buck to Brussels,' Mr Fuller said, referring to the President of the Board of Trade.

He added that Europe needed to harmonise excise duty rates and continue to preserve the tie between brewers and pubs when the issue is reviewed by the EC in 1997.

Courage, the second-biggest brewer in the UK, was criticised for wanting to end the tied system, and Mr Fuller wondered what the long-term view was going to be at the recently formed Carlsberg/Tetley brewing venture.

Michael Turner, managing director, attacked the big brewers for fighting a price war in their desperation for market share.

Amid the attacks, Fuller reported differing pictures of its businesses' fortunes for the year to April. Overall, pre-tax profits rose 6 per cent to pounds 8.3m, following a 13 per cent fall to pounds 7.8m in 1991/2. Gains were in free-trade beer sales and exports. Setbacks were in the wine business, hotels and tied pubs. Final dividend is 5p (4.46p).

Finally, Fuller reluctantly conceded it would gain pounds 500,000 a year from the Government's recent change to levying excise duty on beer.

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