Fuller's toasts record profits and beer sales

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Brewing and pub group Fuller, Smith & Turner, which makes London Pride, has served up a 17 per cent rise in profits with strong cask ale sales.

The 165-year-old company toasted pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items, up 17 per cent to £26.6m in the year to 27 March, on total revenues which jumped by 8 per cent to £227.7m. Like-for-like sales at managed pubs and hotels open more than a year rose by 2.7 per cent over the year. The Fuller's Beer Company had a "very good year" with a 7 per cent increase in operating profits, pre-exceptionals, to £8.9m.

Simon Emeny, managing director of Fuller's Inns, said legislation over the past few years had been tough on the industry. He said: "Duty [on alcohol] has risen at unprecedented levels of 26 per cent in the last 27 months and sooner or later those in government have to realise they cannot keep doing this to the pub industry."

More specifically, he urged the coalition Government to show a "different attitude" about the low price of alcohol sold in supermarkets, which remains a key concern for pubs trying to remain competitive.

Mr Emeny also demanded a change in the Government's approach to beer pricing, which is the mildest form of alcoholic drink. "We should be promoting beer – not excessively taxing it."

He said Fuller's was "concerned" about the impact a potential rise in VAT in the emergency Budget on 22 June would have on consumer spending, which is also likely to bring public spending cuts and tax hikes in the months ahead. "The economic outlook does not look good, does it?" Mr Emeny added.

Despite the darkening clouds over the economy, Fuller's was upbeat about its performance in the 52 weeks to 27 March. The majority of Fuller's 366 pubs are in London and Mr Emeny singled out the contribution made by the eight managed pubs and one tenanted acquired in the capital over the period.

These included the Scarsdale Tavern, in Kensington, and The Holly Bush in Hampstead.

Mr Emeny said the company was expecting a "bumper" day of trade today ahead of and during the England versus US World Cup football game, adding it had invested in its pub environment for the football extravaganza. "We have a large number of outdoor televisions, which we have never had before," he said.