Red tape, beer duty, foot-and-mouth and flooding have not dampened George Gale & Co's hopes of expanding.
The Hampshire brewer is on the lookout for more acquisitions across the South despite the "difficulties" facing the trade. It is also expanding its national account sales team to boost its cask ales, such as HSB, within the national pub companies.
Investment in its beers and pub estate helped to increase operating profit for 2000 by 14 per cent to £4.6m, which it described as "excellent trading figures".
Managing director Nigel Atkinson (pictured) said the company faced both challenges and opportunities because of disruption caused by both flooding and foot-and-mouth in recent months.
He pledged to continue fighting against increasing red tape and high beer duty, which has hit the business.
"The Government continues to encumber our industry with a whole raft of new regulations which once again add additional costs and take up management time in implementation," he said.
"We continue to lobby the Government to bring duty levels more into line with those on the continent. The failure of the Chancellor to adjust the level of beer duty continues to favour continental brewers. Although the freeze in the recent budget was welcomed, the quantity of duty-paid beer imported from France still exceeds the total output of the 33 independent family brewers."
The company said beer volumes performed well against a decline of 9.9 per cent in its Southern trading area. While free trade sales were up 1.1 per cent, like-for-like beer sales within its own pubs were flat.
Acquisitions have been focused on larger outlets to boost its estate of over 100 tenancies and managed houses. It has also grown the number of letting rooms in its pubs to 147. Its five major developments last year included the new development of the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth.
Gales named as Regional Brewer of the Year in Publican Awards (March 27, 2001) Gales raps rise in pub red tape (May 23, 2000)
Profile of George Gale & Co Ltd (February 21, 2000)