The company also announced that Mitchells & Butlers chairman Bob Ivell has joined the board as a non-executive director.
The results, which incorporate the performance of Wells & Young’s Brewing Company, Charles Wells Pub Company and John Bull Pub Company, showed sales income rose £5m to £187m with profit after tax of £7.7m – up 24% from £6.2m the previous year. EBITDA was up 6% to £14.7m.
The company spent more than £2.4m on its leased and tenanted estate throughout the financial year, an average of £12,000 per pub. Charles Wells also returned to managed houses in the UK with £1.5m being invested in the first Apostrophe Pub, the d’Parys in Bedford. Five sites were sold, generating £1.1m of sales proceeds.
Charles Wells said the John Bull managed house operations in France "performed strongly" and that an eleventh site had been identified for early 2015.
The company said sales of its own beers had grown steadily and new beers such as Charles Wells DNA had successfully taped into the growing demand for craft ales. There was growth in sales to international markets which now represent 17% of the brewery’s output. The wine company, Cockburn & Campbell, enjoyed its third consecutive year of growth with sales up 16%.
Debt levels of the group are in line with expectations with the £6m increase in borrowings reflecting the final £5m payment to Young’s for the purchase of their 40% share in Wells & Young’s and the return to UK managed houses.
Commenting on the results chairman Paul Wells said: “Our performance this year has been in line with expectations and we have invested for the future through investment in the brewery as well as the pub estates in the UK and France. Our international sales and pub operations have demonstrated that growth is possible at home and overseas, despite the difficulties of the global economy and our wine company has also delivered excellent growth. Consumer tastes continue to develop and therefore innovative new products along with quality pub sites that consumers wish to frequent is essential.
“Our tax obligation remains high, with 42% of turnover paid in tax in addition to VAT payments of £17.9m. However a second consecutive cut in duty of 1p per pint in the budget helped to ensure continued investment in high quality pubs.”
Looking ahead to 2015, Wells added “The board is delighted to announce that Bob Ivell will join as a non-executive director of Charles Wells in January 2015 and we are confident and optimistic about the future as we move forward with our brewing and pub businesses which transfer back under the name of Charles Wells next month.”