Jennings demands public cash for rural pubs

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Related tags: Rural pubs, Jennings brothers, Beer

Jennings Brothers has called on the Government to pump cash into helping rural pubs as it continues to be hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.Although...

Jennings Brothers has called on the Government to pump cash into helping rural pubs as it continues to be hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Although profits were up over the past year-and-a-half, the Cumbrian brewer said it had also been hit by disappointing weather and declining tourism.

Chairman John Rudgard said: "The Government must recognise the special needs of Cumbria beyond the devastation caused to the farming community. What is required is a substantial and sustained government-funded investment programme, mainly for marketing and promotion, aimed at re-establishing and investing in the future of tourism upon which so many in Cumbria depend."

He said foot-and-mouth was having "a significant impact" on about half of Jennings' 166-strong estate and a large proportion of its freetrade customers in rural areas.

"This is likely to continue for many months after the outbreak comes to an end," he said. "We have taken all appropriate and possible steps to contain costs within the business and, although we have introduced a number of initiatives, the effect on sales is more difficult to influence."

But he said Jennings remained "positive for the longer-term underlying prospects for the business" because of investment in its pub estate and nationwide growth for its ales.

"Given this success and despite the impact of foot-and-mouth, we are now more optimistic for prospects in the national and free trade markets for our own brewed beers," Mr Rudgard said. "In the local market, sales should accelerate once the crisis is behind us."

Jennings reported pre-tax profits of £3.2m for the 75 weeks to March 3, which included only a few days of the foot-and-mouth crisis. It compared with the previous accounting period of only 12 months, when profits were £1.9m.

Sales of Jennings own brand ales grew over the year-and-a-half by 10.7 per cent, with sales of cask ales growing by nine per cent and smooth beers, driven by the new Cumberland Cream Ale, by 28.7 per cent.

Mr Rudgard said: "We continue aggressively to pursue new sales opportunities in the rapidly changing marketplace, in both our local market and the new pubco marketplace."

Foot-and-mouth had little impact on the company's pubs in the 75 weeks to March 3, with increases in turnover for tenancies and managed houses.

Related stories:

Buoyant Adnams warns on foot-and-mouth (April 9, 2001)

Jennings tightens belt after sales hit by poor weather and tourism (December 4, 2000)

Pubs' profits hit by sorry summer (August 8, 2000)

Related topics: Licensing law

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