Pubs and Bars

Fullers in ‘stronger position than many’ despite £10m hit

Fullers has welcomed a “transformational” year of trading, with revenue and other income from continuing operations up 3% to £333m in the year ended 28 March 2020. 

Profit before tax for total group operations soared from £26.1m to £174.5m in the period.

Like-for-like growth was seen across all areas of the business, with drinks sales up by 1.7%, food sales up by 1.9% and accommodation sales up by 5.9% for the 49 weeks ended 7 March 2020.

In the same period, it welcomed a “good” performance from managed pubs and hotels, with  like-for-like sales up by 2.3%. Tenanted sites gave a “steady” performance, meanwhile, with like-for-like profits down by 3% amid a “tough trading environment”.

The group also gained a £162.4m profit from the sale of the Fuller’s Beer Business, which was sold to Asahi Europe Ltd for an enterprise value of £250m. 

The group said the sale has “proved fortuitous and ensured we were in a strong position, with substantial liquidity headroom, when the coronavirus pandemic struck”.

In addition, net debt was reduced by £66.3m to £178.9m by the end of the full-year period. 

Nonetheless, the impact of coronavirus on 2019/20 trading is estimated to be in excess of £10m.

While over 75% of managed pubs and hotels and the majority of tenanted Inns have reopened, the brewer said it was “too early” to draw meaningful conclusions for the longer term, but comfortable with current levels of trade.

CEO Simon Emeney said: “ While we are prepared for business, particularly in London, to take some time to return to normal, we are well placed to satisfy the uptick in demand for staycations as many customers holiday closer to home – an opportunity we are supporting with marketing activity for our Beautiful Bedrooms. 

“We continue to focus on minimising cash burn and returning to profitability. During August, we will gradually reintroduce rent for Tenants – but on a tapered basis to help with their own return to sustainable trading levels.”

He added: “In these uncertain times, it is challenging to accurately predict the future. But having begun reopening our pubs nearly four weeks ago, it is encouraging to see customers returning to our pubs and this steady growth in consumer confidence will be the key to success – not just of our company or our industry but the economy as a whole. 

“We have a well-balanced estate geographically and that, combined with a freehold asset base and the calibre of our people, puts us in a stronger position than many to build towards sustained profitability in this full year and a strong start to the FY2022 financial year.”

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