Brakspear breaks sales record

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Related tags: Cask ale

Regional brewer WH Brakspear is celebrating its best results for 220 years, including a continuing increase in sales of cask beer.The Oxfordshire...

Regional brewer WH Brakspear is celebrating its best results for 220 years, including a continuing increase in sales of cask beer.

The Oxfordshire company said business was stable despite the turmoil hitting other long-established names in the industry.

Pre-tax profits for the year to December 31 were up by one per cent to £3.9million after major restructuring in 2000, Brakspear said on Tuesday (March 27).

Turnover climbed by six per cent to £16.2million while underlying operating profit was up 14 per cent to £3.6million.

Chairman Mike Foster said: "We have maintained our recent growth record despite the turmoil in our industry."Our objective for future years is to use our core strengths in brewing, tenanted pubs and property to continue to deliver above-inflation growth."

Mr Foster said trading over the past three months indicated that this was already being achieved in the short term.

"In the longer term, the current fluidity in the industry will in time open up more radical opportunities for growth," he said.

Sales of its cask beers, such as its Bitter and seasonal ales, were up six per cent in a declining market, while total volumes were up 25 per cent.

Last year, Brakspear carried out its biggest-ever refurbishment programme within its 100-strong tenanted estate.

This included 12 major projects in pubs where the trading area was increased for food or new letting rooms were built.

"These days, most rural pubs cannot survive on wet sales alone," Mr Foster said. "This position can be transformed by developments to provide facilities for pub food and good quality letting accommodation.

"A significant number of our pubs have scope for such development and we have an ongoing plan to unlock this latent potential."

It has been selling underperforming pubs and bought four new ones in Beckley, near Oxford, Bicester in Oxfordshire, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and Clerkenwell in central London.

The brewer is recovering from the failure of Honeypot Inns, a joint venture with Firkin creator David Bruce to develop its managed estate.

After buying back Mr Bruce's 50 per cent stake last year, it has sold one of the 10 pubs and is about to dispose of two more.

Mr Foster said: "An inadequate return was being made on the investment in the outlets required.

"We will closely monitor the performance of the rest of the Honeypot estate and will act decisively to ensure that satisfactory returns are achieved.

"To maintain the growth rate that we have set will increasingly involve some risk. With Honeypot, that risk became excessive."

Related topics: Beer

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