Kent brewer and pub company Shepherd Neame has warned there will be no let up for the embattled UK pub industry this year.
The company which operates 372 pubs in the South East, of which 323 are tenanted and 49 managed, saw profits fall in the six-months ending 29 December 2007.
Sales rose 3.7% to £52.4m in the half year but pre-tax profits fell 2.3% to £4.7m.
Shepherd Neame's like-for-like sales at its managed pubs fell 1.7% while sales in its tenanted houses rose just 0.6%.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, said the company had delivered a "solid and resilient performance" for the six month period.
Neame pointed to the challenges of subdued consumer spending, rising utility, food and raw material prices and the impact from the smoking ban.
He said: "We believe the current difficult trading conditions will persist throughout 2008 but we are investing in the business for the long term and are confident that the quality and profile of our pubs and brands will enable the company to continue to outperform the market."
By Christopher Walton
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