Overall ranking: 38 (new entry)
Pub and par operator ranking: 10 (new entry)
"Whatever you do, take Pride." Fuller's London Pride beer may have moved on from that advertising slogan, but as Simon Emeny prepares to notch up five years as chief executive, he could be forgiven for feeling a certain satisfaction in his stewardship of Fuller, Smith & Turner. The Chiswick-based family brewer and pub operator continues to outperform a challenging hospitality market. Pre-tax profits for the year to 1 April 2017 were up 5% year-on-year to £42.9m on a turnover that was up 12% over the previous year to £392m. Fuller's has 190 tenanted pubs and 198 managed pubs and hotels (including 706 boutique bedrooms), with pubs from Brighton to Birmingham and Bristol to Battersea.
What we think
It's significant that when Emeny was appointed chief executive of Fuller, Smith & Turner in 2013 that it marked the first time in a 170-odd-year history that the business had felt the need to look beyond members of the three founding families for the top job.
He joined Fuller's from Bass in 1996, becoming retail director in 1998 and managing director of Fuller's Inns in 2006 under the watchful eye of Michael Turner, his predecessor as chief executive and still executive chairman. The managed pub division is now the engine room of the business, which is far from a given in a business that built its fortune on brewing. Managed pubs and hotels accounted for around two-thirds of revenue and three-quarters of group profits in 2016/17.
The estate has been refined and enhanced, including a significant investment in hotel rooms, with notable acquisitions including MPs' "local" the Red Lion in Westminster and the Harp in Covent Garden. Successful pub developments in travel sites such as the Parcel Yard in King's Cross and the London's Pride at Heathrow are set to continue.
Emeny is supported by an able team including Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller's Inns, and head of food Paul Dickinson, who has refocused the business around freshly cooked, premium menus, backed by significant investment in chef training. Promoting Dickinson to divisional director in April 2017, Emeny said: "Paul has revolutionised the way we view food in Fuller's."
Fuller's also has a majority stake in pizza-and-cider casual-dining operation the Stable, and it acquired cider maker Cornish Orchards in 2013.
The appointment of Simon Dodd, former chief operating officer of Orchid Group, as managing director of the Fuller's Beer Company means there is now a retail specialist in charge of the brewing arm. He is ensuring the business is fully embracing the craft beer revolution through a programme of collaboration and innovation.
There are challenges ahead. Emeny is a firm remainer and no fan of Brexit. Taking on the role of chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) in December 2017, he said: "Industry-wide issues have never been more important in our sector as we face the pressures of high taxation and the upcoming challenges of Brexit", adding that the industry supports 900,000 jobs.
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