Bedford based brewer and operators Charles Wells has reported a 2.9% drop in operating profit to £10.2m for the year to September.
Turnover increased 1% to £227m across the company while EBITDA at the 257-strong tenanted and leased Charles Wells pubs was level on last year with sales up 2.7%.
Income per pub on a like-for-like basis increased 1.2% and 31 pubs were purchased during the year. Operating profit at Wells & Young's Brewing Company (W&YBC) increased 3.7% to £6.6m. Owned beer volumes were 1.1% down on last year.
W&YBC reported an exceptional cost of £7.9m — £6.9m on an impairment charge following the decision to rationalise warehousing and logistics infrastructure and outsource distribution services and a further £1m relates to costs of restructuring.
The six-strong John Bull managed pubs in France "contributed well to group profits" and now number six sites. Two new sites were opened in Bordeaux in 2009 and two projects are scheduled for early 2010.
"We have delivered these solid results with operating profit of £10.2m in a year of huge economic uncertainty," said chief executive Paul Wells. "We were pleased to be able to buy some great pubs, and with focused support to our partners we have seen good growth from the existing core estate.
"We said last year that we intended to maintain investment behind our brands with the highest quality marketing to continue their growth and we have done so. We have driven sales of our beer brands very hard in all markets, including exports, but the star performers continue to be the cask beers.
"The very high level of beer duty now levied can be seen in W&Y. We pay over £84m in duty and compared to last year we paid an extra £7m, which has to be passed on and would explain why pubs in particular are hard hit and UK beer sales are in decline. It's time for the Chancellor to realise the vital role played by pubs in their local economies."