Shepherd Neame has best half-year

Shepherd Neame, the brewer behind Spitfire and Bishops Finger, has hailed record half-year sales, but warned that soaring grain and fuel prices are hitting profits.

Britain's oldest brewer said it notched up its highest ever beer volumes and turnover, which rose 1.6 per cent to £61.7m, as resilient demand for ales and speciality beers helped it weather a challenging pub market.

But pre-tax profits slipped 7 per cent to £3.4m in the six months to 25 December after margins came under pressure and the group cautioned over a further spike in costs. It said it was concerned over the hit to production costs in the second half and the next financial year, while it also noted the consumer squeeze from government cuts.

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