Bedfordshire brewer and pub operator Charles Wells increased operating profits by 4% to £8m following major investment in its brewery and new managed pub arm.
Announcing its results for the year to September 2015, the company revealed that turnover rose by £1.7m to £188.9m, while total borrowings were reduced from £51.2m to £49.8m.
It spent £3m improving its brewhouse with a new control system, £2.5m on refurbishing its UK tenanted and leased estate. It also expanded its managed house portfolio, Apostrophe pubs, to four sites.
CEO Justin Phillimore said the results were due to steady sales margins and strong cost control. 'We have had many challenges and consumer confidence still seems to be recovering but we have made great progress,' he said. 'Beer sales volume increased and in retailing we invested in new pub developments to good effect.
'Improved sales were driven by new products and marketing promotions, with Young’s London Stout and Estrella Damm demonstrating particularly effective marketing and vigorous sales.'
Sales outside of the UK were impacted by the weakened Euro and trade sanctions with Russia. However exports remained at 17% of total sales.
Phillimore added: 'Our French pubs weathered the economic downturn, and ongoing negotiations enabled us to purchase two pubs subsequent to the year end, bringing our total to 13 sites. Our new concept, the English Country Kitchen, has been building a reputation in the blossoming tea room market and is recording a good level of turnover.'
Licensee retention stands at 96% after 18 months, 84% after 36 months, a figure up 4% on last year.