The business, led by cousins William and Oliver Robinson, said while financial support received from the UK Government was “greatly appreciated”, it was keen to point out that despite being forced to close its pubs in support of the national coronavirus effort, it still paid more to the UK government in taxes than it received. The group received a total of £5.1m of support in the year and paid a total of £7.6m through taxation.
Robinsons said it said had faced a challenging year with the global pandemic and national restrictions including pub closures but had maintained a strong balance sheet and cash position, and was looking ahead to 2021 and was now trading profitably.
Despite this it continued to invest in the business. The 6th generation family brewer continued to invest in its beer brands with the launch of Hopnik IPA in July 2020. It also continued its strategy to enhance the existing managed and tenanted pubs by investing £4.4m in developments and improvements. Its 2021 investment plan is also close to pre-pandemic levels, it revealed.
Turnover from continued operations decreased from £71.5m in 2019 to £45.6m in 2020; a decrease of £25.9m. This fall in turnover resulted in an operating loss of £6.8m in 2020 compared to a profit generated from continued operations of £3.9m the year before. This is an overall decline year-on-year in operating profit of £10.7m.
The company said that it “led the way” in the sector supporting its English and Welsh tenanted pubs with zero rents when pubs were closed and reduced rents as they emerged under restrictions. These concessions were the equivalent of a 77% reduction in normal rent during the year, it said.
The managing directors acknowledged the reduced taxation burden announced during 2020 through the freeze in beer duty, cancellation of business rates, VAT reduction, the Eat Out to Help Out and furlough scheme were both “timely and appropriate”.
Robinsons said it was appreciative of the increased demand for its contract bottling services and especially the effort and attitude of its packaging centre employees, in meeting the challenges presented in the most turbulent of years.
“The coronavirus pandemic created a set of circumstances beyond any the business has faced in its 182-year history. The board, working with our executive team, set out a clear strategy when the pandemic hit to support our licensees and employees as best as we could afford to. We have stuck firmly to this commitment throughout the last year,” the managing directors said.
“Our business is based on the success of our licensees’ businesses and the dedication of our teams at the brewery, packaging centre and in our managed pubs. By setting out a clear and supportive stance towards them, they were in the best position to be able to survive the pub closures caused by the national and local lockdowns and as such, are able to re-emerge strongly which was our key priority and strategic aim.”
The managing directors were also keen to acknowledge the “great work” carried out by their in-house cellar services and logistics teams in managing the destruction of more than 1m pints of beer at the end of the first lockdown.