London-based pub, hotel and brewing firm Fuller's has hailed a positive start to its financial year, despite headwinds like rising business rates and the increase in the National Living Wage.
The company reported an 11% increase in revenue to £197.6m for the first 26 weeks of the year to 24 September 2016, with adjusted pre-tax profit up 6% to £22.8m.
Its managed pubs and hotels division grew like-for-like sales by 3.4% supported by growth in food, although like-for-like profits in its tenanted division were down 2% and total beer and cider volumes dropped 4% against strong comparatives, thanks to last year's rugby world cup.
The company bought two new managed pubs: the Gun in Docklands in London, and the Half Moon in Herne Hill. It also added 16 boutique hotel rooms to its estate.
Commenting on the results, chief executive Simon Emeny said: "We have had a good start to the year and our managed pubs and hotels, which represent the largest share of our profits, have yet again led the way with a rise in like-for-like sales that has outperformed the market.
"There is no doubt that the UK economy is facing some significant challenges. The impact of increases in business rates and the National Living Wage, combined with uncertainty around the UK's departure from the EU, make for changing times ahead. However, Fuller's has a long-term, strategic vision, a solid balance sheet and a predominantly freehold estate, which is well-invested and supported by excellent, engaged team members and dedicated, skilled management.
"These are the qualities needed to continue to delight and excite our customers, provide a good return for our shareholders and attract the best new recruits to our business."