Tally ho as Spitfire beer gets boost

The Kent brewer Shepherd Neame has scrambled the comedians Armstrong and Miller in their fighter pilot roles to promote its best-selling Spitfire Ale in an ad campaign this summer.

The move comes after the brewer said it wants to increase exports of several of its beers, including Spitfire, Bishops Finger and the organic Whitstable Bay.

Shepherd Neame, which has 350 pubs, reported sales rose 2.6 per cent in the six months to the end of December with a particularly strong Christmas period. But its chairman Miles Templeman said that on top of the poor weather during the summer "the much-anticipated boost to tourism from the Olympics did not materialise".

Operating profits were flat at £6.7m and pre-tax profits slipped from £4.8m to £4.5m as the company continued to invest in its pubs. The dividend rises from 4.9p to 5p.