Pubs and brewing group Fuller, Smith & Turner has reported an 11% hike in half-year profits as efforts to drive hotel business and food sales paid off.
The firm, which is based in Chiswick, west London, said like-for-like sales in its key managed pubs and hotels arm lifted 3.3% during the six months to September 26.
Underlying group profits rose to £15.7 million in the first half and Fuller said it hoped the firm’s heartland in the south of England would help shield it from much of the impact of Government spending cuts.
Fuller also saw like-for-like profits growth of 1% across its 201 tenanted pubs, marking a turnaround after a tough recent period for the division. And earnings in its brewing operation, which boasts its flagship ale London Pride, lifted 5% as beer sales volumes rose 1%.
But it was Fuller’s 163-strong managed pubs and hotels arm – the largest part of the group – that drove half-year results.
Fuller has focused on higher-margin food and accommodation business to offset a declining drinks market.
Its hotels were the star performers, with sales from accommodation up 11.4% on a like-for-like basis – now accounting for 7% of total revenue.
Nearly a third of the division’s revenues come from food sales, up 4.2% in the half-year, while drinks sales were also resilient with a 2.3% increase.
Fuller said the managed pubs performance had improved further since September, with like-for-like sales growth edging up to 3.5% in the 33 weeks of the year so far.
Michael Turner, chairman of Fuller, said he was mindful of pressure on customers from Government austerity measures as well as the impending increase in VAT to 20%.