Monday 10 December 2018

Fuller’s brewer sees beer and cider volumes fall flat after ‘tough year’

Adjusted pre-tax profits rose just 1% over the full year to March 31.

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London (Tim Ireland/PA)
Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London (Tim Ireland/PA)

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

Fuller, Smith and Turner has attempted to shrug off another “tough year”, assuring it is still in a “strong position” despite challenging market conditions that left beer and cider volumes flat.

The pubs group reported a 3% rise in total revenue at £403.6 million, though adjusted pre-tax profits rose just 1% to £43.2 million over the year to March 31.

While the London Pride brewer said it experienced strong performance from its tenanted inns and good growth at its managed pubs and hotels, total beer and cider volumes were flat in what it called a “challenging marketplace”.

Chief executive Simon Emeny played down the muted performance of the drinks division.

“Our managed pubs and hotels have again delivered like-for-like sales that are above the industry average and our tenanted inns are making real progress with a 3% increase in profits.

“Although we have seen a marginal drop in total beer and cider volumes, it has been a year of progress for the Fuller’s Beer Company, which has a clear strategy to return to growth and exciting, achievable plans in place.”

It has been another tough year in the beer industry, but the Fuller’s Beer Company has solid plans in place Chairman Michael Turner

He added that the company was on a strong footing despite economic concerns, with UK growth having slowed considerably since the start of the year.

“While we are still in a time of national and global uncertainty – and we do not underestimate the related wider market and economic issues that we will have to navigate over the months ahead – we believe we are in a strong position.”

But updates on its current trading showed further pain for its own beer and cider division, with volumes down 3% over the first nine weeks of the new financial year.

However, it hopes that investments in a new pilot brewery and “improved visitor experience” will boost innovation across its brewing team and showcase its Chiswick brewing hub “to the burgeoning ranks of beer enthusiasts”.

Chairman Michael Turner also highlighted its recent acquisition of Dark Star Brewing in Sussex, saying that an established cask ale range will further broaden the group’s appeal.

“It has been another tough year in the beer industry, but the Fuller’s Beer Company has solid plans in place,” Mr Turner assured.

The sector has for months been working to offset rising costs on the back of inflation and the Brexit-hit pound.

But while price increases have finally started to cool, companies are still grappling with shaky consumer confidence, with households more cautious about splashing out.

Press Association

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