Fuller's starts new year well after annual profit rise

Fri Jun 7, 2013 3:04am EDT

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LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - British pubs operator and brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner said trading had started well in its new financial year after the acquisition of more sites helped the group to post a 5 percent rise in annual profit.

The group, which has around 400 mainly London and south-east based pubs and also brews ales like London Pride, said on Friday adjusted pretax profit for the year to March 30 was 31.7 million pounds ($49 million), up 5 percent from 30.3 million pounds posted in 2012.

New pubs boosted the performance of its largest division, managed pubs and hotels, with total sales rising 9 percent in the period and like-for-like growth up 2.1 percent on the back of a robust London accommodation market and strong food sales.

Underlying sales at its tenanted arm were up 1 percent, with operating profit up 18 percent driven by 17 pub acquisitions in 2012. Brewing volumes were flat.

Fuller's Chairman Michael Turner described the group performance as strong.

"Trading for the current year has started positively and like for like sales in our Managed Pubs and Hotels were up 7 percent (in 9 weeks to June 1)," he said. "We look forward to the prospect of a year less blighted by the weather."

In April rival firm Greene King, also strongly exposed to the more affluent capital and south east region where pubs have generally fared best through an economic downturn, reported a 2.2 percent rise in like-for-like sales for the 51 weeks to April 21.

Shares in Fuller's closed at 880 pence on Thursday, up 18 percent on a year ago and valuing the company at around 270 million pounds.

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