Hospitality/Record beer sales give Shepherd Neame sharp profit jump

Shepherd Neame saw a 40 per cent leap in profits last year as it sold record volumes of beers including Spitfire and Asahi Super Dry and enjoyed record sales from its 354 pubs.

Jonathan Neame, the chief executive, said: "Across the UK it has been a tale of two industries. Swaths of community pubs in less well-off areas are struggling to survive as the Government continues to push duty up.

"But in more affluent areas, where most of our pubs are located, there has been substantial growth in both food and accommodation demand ever since the smoking ban came in.

"Pubs are now outperforming restaurants as the venue for family meals because they offer value for money."

Shepherd Neame said pre-tax profits jumped from £6.5m to £9.1m on sales up 9.6 per cent at £133m. The dividend for the year goes up 3 per cent to 24.5p a share.

In the year to the end of June the Kent-based brewer acquired seven local pubs and hotels, including the Royal Wells Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, and now has a total of 499 rooms to let.