Rising costs and the slowdown in consumer spending have put the brakes on sales growth for London brewer Fuller's.
In an interim management statement the company said less favourable trading conditions meant the record growth figures seen in the first half of the year had slowed down in the run up to Christmas and into the New Year.
Across the 43 weeks to January 26 invested like-for-like sales in the managed pub estate were up four per cent. Tenanted revenues are up 4.4 per cent over the same period, while the Fuller's Beer Company brewing arm saw total volumes up two per cent.
The company has returned £3.5m of cash to shareholders through buy-backs and in the second half sold three tenanted pubs and three unlicensed properties for £6m, a net gain of £4.7m.
Fuller's warned that "the trading environment for the remainder of the financial year is likely to continue to be challenging" with cost pressures on raw materials in for Beer Company, and food and utility costs in the managed estate "the highest they have been for some time."
Chairman Michael Turner said: "Since the half year, the slowdown in consumer spending and input price inflation on top of the smoking ban have made operating conditions more challenging. I am therefore very pleased with the way the company has performed in such a climate."
He added that Fuller's is " well positioned in what is, at least for the moment, a challenging market".