The business also reported an increased underlying operating profit of £11.4m in the 52-week period to 31 December 2022 despite “significant economic headwinds including increased energy costs, high levels of inflation and rising interest rates”.
Sales in the company’s managed pub estate have seen very strong growth in 2023 so far, with momentum building. In the 23 weeks to 10 June 2023, like-for-like (lfl) sales were up 12% with growth accelerating in recent weeks. The last four weeks of trading to 10 June 2023 show lfl sales rising by 20%.
St Austell Brewery non-executive chairman Will Michelmore said: “I am pleased to report that the company achieved record sales in 2022 and grew its profitability. Despite the impacts of the pandemic beginning to abate at the start of the year, the economic challenges facing the business continued to intensify due to external factors - largely beyond our control - which significantly increased the cost of doing business.”
Optimistic about long term
Michelmore continued: “Against this backdrop, we still achieved sales growth, significantly improved the profitability of our beer business, and made good progress against our objective of releasing the full potential of our high-quality pub estate.
“Despite the current challenging environment, we are optimistic about our long-term prospects and remain confident that we have the leadership, talented teams, and focused strategy to ensure the company’s future success.”
St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “We entered 2022 in a strong position, having seen our profitability recover to near pre-pandemic levels and with a refreshed and clear strategic direction. However, external cost pressures beyond our control have required us to navigate numerous challenges. These include the extraordinary increases in energy costs, the highest rate of inflation for over 40 years, ongoing shortages in the labour market, and reduced visitor numbers in our region.
“Despite these challenges we had a record year for sales. In our beer business, the strength of our brands and continued improvements in efficiencies enabled us to also deliver record profits. We remain fully committed to building on our brewing reputation, as highlighted when we invested into North Cornwall’s Harbour Brewing Company in November.
“Our underlying operating profits across the group were also ahead of the previous year.”
He continued: “We remain committed to ensuring that a visit to one of our pubs, or drinking one of our beers, represents good value for our customers and does not become an occasional treat.”
He said after successfully refinancing in March, the company continues to have significant headroom in its funding that will allow it to continue investing in our business and pursuing attractive acquisition opportunities.
However, Georgel urged the Government to work harder to create conditions that incentivise investment and support businesses that are committed to growth.
He concluded: “We are confident our financial performance compares strongly with the market and builds on our recovery from the pandemic. We remain focused on unlocking the full potential of our business and taking advantage of growth opportunities which lie ahead.”