Fuller, Smith & Turner buoyant amid downturn

The pubs and brewing group Fuller, Smith & Turner cheered an 18 per cent rise in first-half profits but warned that the rest of its financial year would be "significantly tougher".

The London Pride brewer yesterday posted underlying pre-tax profits of £14.1m for the 26 weeks to 26 September, helped by low interest rates, better weather and a clampdown on costs including pay.

Fuller expects a much tougher second half as VAT goes back up in January. Michael Turner, the chairman, said: "Our first-half performance has defied the recession, but it has been boosted by factors that may not repeat, or may even reverse."

Like-for-like sales at its managed pubs rose just 2.8 per cent, but profits from the managed estate rose 20 per cent and it gained from the acquisition of seven managed pubs from Punch Taverns, boosting its presence in the West End.