Fuller's raises a glass to a robust set of results

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The Independent Online

Management at Fuller Smith & Turner, the independent brewers, yesterday said they were confident the company could continue to enjoy a frothy performance, despite a hard road ahead as a result of the consumer squeeze.

It came as they raised a glass to a robust set of results with adjusted profits before tax – excluding one-off gains – at £29.3m, up 10 per cent, for the 53 weeks ending April 2. That was on revenues of £241.9m, up 6 per cent.

Chief executive Michael Turner warned: "With wages in the UK running behind inflation, our customers' incomes are being squeezed and we will have to work hard in the current year and beyond to earn their custom."

However, Fuller's – which operates primarily in London and the South-east and has brews such as London Pride – hopes the Olympics will boost business and cushion it from the worst.

The chain has also started to buy pubs again after an unusual year when it added no new premises. Four were taken on in the first nine weeks of the new financial year. Simon Emery, the group managing director, would not say how many more would be added but further buys are planned.

Fuller's is an oddity in the brewing industry in that it remains family controlled and has managed to avoid some of its rivals' pitfalls, not least their willingness to indulge in financial engineering that has left the sector weighed down by mountains of debt.

Net debt at Fuller's last year fell £19.2m to £88.5m while the final dividend was raised 8 per cent to 7.05p. Managed pubs profits rose 15 per cent. Beer volumes grew 2 per cent but earnings from tenanted inns were flat.

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