The operator, which runs 254 pubs from its north-west home in Stockport, revealed the uplift, which included being closed for the first four months of its financial year.
Joint managing directors William and Oliver Robinson said: “Disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic eased in 2021 compared to 2020 but still impacted trading for a considerable part of the year with pubs in England and Wales closed completely in the first quarter, and significant restrictions in place until mid-May with some lesser restrictions returning in December.
“In between these restrictions, consumers began to return to pre-pandemic habits with strong trading across most of our pub estate.
“We continued to support our licensees during the year through rent reductions and support with their grant applications.
“We were grateful for the governments continued support through the furlough scheme, reduced VAT rate and a reduction in business rates. Notwithstanding this support, we contributed more to the exchequer in business taxes than we received in support, with a net contribution of £3.7m.”
Against this backdrop, the business recovered well with sales growth from £45.6m to £63.3m, which helped generate an operating profit of £4.5m (2020: loss of £6.8m) representing an operating profit improvement of £11.3m. Profit before tax was £15.4m (2020: loss of £4.7m) and after tax, profit was boosted to £11.7m (2020: loss £4m).
The company’s performance was helped by some significant land disposals, and its continuing programme of pub refurbishments. Significant investments were made at the Bulls Head, Marple; Lawton Arms, Church Lawton; and the King William, Wilmslow; with refurbishment and extensions also made to the Wheatsheaf Inn, Kendal; part of Robinsons’ Individual Inns pubs collection, alongside the recent acquisition of the Woodman Inn, West Yorkshire; and the Swettenham Arms, Congleton; which was acquired in August 2021.
The managing directors added: “We continue to engage with the government on the disproportionate tax burden pubs and breweries face, through business rates, beer duty and VAT.
“This has been further exacerbated by unprecedented cost-price inflation caused by global uncertainty and the crisis in Ukraine. It is more important than ever that we strive for great service and premium experiences while supporting our loyal licensees running our more wet-led pubs.”
Further acquisitions planned
The business has also relaunched its apprenticeship programme, Aspire, and added it is “well-placed to make the right long-term strategic acquisitions of tenanted and managed pubs”, meaning large-scale investments are planned within the next two years.
Earlier this year, Robinsons signed contracts with SSV for the installation of the new brewhouse at its Bredbury Packaging Centre, the first phase of its plan to consolidate the head office, brewing and packaging functions into one site.
The managing directors concluded: “We remain in a strong position financially with no borrowings and significant cash reserves, and we continue to be acquisitive, looking for individual pubs and or small freehold groups which match the style of business we operate.”