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Toast to success success

Investors yesterday toasted an 18.8 per cent profit increase at Mansfield Brewery by pushing the shares up 4p to an all-time high of 273p. The climb in annual taxable profits from pounds 14.3m to pounds 17m is accompanied by an 18.2 per cent rise in dividend payments to 5.2p.

The result, struck before property disposal profits of pounds 419,000, up from pounds 28,000, was the best achieved since Mansfield reorganised and refocused its strategy in early 1991. The emphasis is now on developing greenfield sites - converting redundant bank premises into pubs, greater promotion of beer brands, and greater food sales.

Acquiring and developing more established pubs is also high on the agenda. Mansfield spent pounds 12.5m on 27 pubs in the financial year to 1 April, of which 22 were managed and five were tenancies. The pubs being bought tend to be large premises such as the Hoskins Wharf on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Redevelopment of the site into a family pub will cost pounds 1m.

Borrowings as a percentage of shareholders' funds of pounds 149.7m rose from 43.4 to 48.5 per cent, well within the company's self-imposed ceiling of 65 per cent.