Flat beer profits at Fuller as duty calls

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The Independent Online

Fuller, Smith & Turner hit out at "damaging" plans to raise alcohol duty in April and revealed profits slowed at its tenanted pubs.

The London Pride brewer said Government spending cuts, January's rise in VAT and plans to raise alcohol duty by 2 per cent above inflation as part of the "duty escalator" would squeeze consumer spending.

But it claimed the quality of its beers and the location of many of its pubs in the South-east left it well placed to meet the challenge. In a trading update, the company reported that like-for-like profits from its 200 tenanted pubs were flat in the 43 weeks to 22 January, whereas in the previous half-year they were up 1 per cent.

But sales of its own brews, which also include Honey Dew and HSB, returned to growth in the past quarter while those from its managed pubs and hotels increased their rate growth.

The Labour Government introduced the duty escalator in 2008, which sees alcohol duty rise by 2 per cent above retail prices inflation. This April it is set to rise by 6.6 per cent.

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