Last updated: November 23, 2012 5:26 pm

Wet summer hits Fuller’s sales

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A branded beer cask at the Fuller Smith & Turner brewery in London©Bloomberg

The wet summer undermined any Olympic Games boost at Fuller, Smith & Turner, the Chiswick-based brewer and pub company, in the first half of the year.

Organic sales at pubs that the group itself manages rose just 1.6 per cent in the six months to the end of September, while income from tenanted pubs – which Fuller’s leases and supplies with beer – rose 1 per cent at venues owned for more than a year.

Total tenanted pub profits were boosted by the acquisition of 17 venues last year, most of which it bought from its bigger rival Enterprise Inns.

The group also purchased 13 managed pubs. About half its estate sits outside the M25, and the company is looking to expand further in “Waitrose territory” – wealthy areas in the southeast of England and towns such as Bath and Salisbury.

Diversification out of the capital might go some way to explaining the weaker first-half performance of Fuller’s than its traditional London rival, Young & Co’s, for which sales at managed pubs open more than a year grew almost 6 per cent year on year.

“You would expect them to be able to trade in line with Young’s,” said Lindsey Kerrigan, an analyst with Panmure Gordon. “Expansion into a wider region should be beneficial but I guess it’s just wait and see.”

The company’s higher proportion of garden pubs also meant it took a harder hit from the poor weather.

Michael Turner, chairman of Fuller’s, called the performance “robust . . . against the backdrop of a unique combination of events in London and the wettest summer in 100 years”.

Underlying profit before tax – before a £600,000 profit on property disposals – rose to £17.1m in the half from £16.5m in the first half of 2010-11. Post-exceptionals, pre-tax profits were 13 per cent higher than the previous year, at £18.1m.

Revenues rose 8 per cent to £137.9m, and the board has lifted the interim dividend 6 per cent to 5.35p, paid out of earnings per share that were nearly a quarter higher at 28.52p.

Volumes at the brewery, which makes London Pride and launched two new ales for the Jubilee and Olympics, rose 1 per cent in the half-year, but depreciation on new conditioning tanks dented operating profits.

Shares in Fuller’s rose 3.24 per cent to 749.5p.

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