Shepherd Neame was raising a toast to its managed pubs and seaside pub sales this morning, as the group posted "record" annual sales and boosted trading at its coastal pubs over the summer.
Turnover at the pub group, which is also the UK's oldest brewer, grew by 1.2 per cent to £139.9m in the year to 25 June.
Managed pubs and hotels were the major driver of growth at the Kent-based company, with sales up 4.4 per cent overall and accommodation revenues up 11.7 per cent.
Growth at its tenanted pubs was a smaller 2.7 per cent.
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Underlying profit before tax rose by 10.7 per cent to £10.3m in the year to 25 June, up from £9.3m in 2015, and earnings per share increased by 12.3 per cent to 54.7p.
Shepherd Neame's proposed final dividend per share was up three per cent to 22.05p, making total dividends for the year of 27.5p.
Why it's interesting
Over the year, Shepherd Neame increased its investment in its pubs to £7.3m, spending £2.2m in repairs and decorations.
Paul Hickman, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said the group had ended the year "with a smaller but higher quality estate of 328 pubs" and, with its programme of in-pub developments, has "generated scale improvements in profits per pub".
Since the year end, it has also acquired eight pubs from major pubco Enterprise Inns.
Chief executive Jonathan Neame said the company had enjoyed a "good start" to the new financial year "with a particularly strong performance from our coastal pubs".
Like-for-like sales at its managed pubs were up 8.2 per cent in the 10 weeks to 3 September, though tenanted pubs still lagged behind at 2.2 per cent.
This confirms the trend that pub spending has generally been on the rise since the June Brexit vote.
What Shepherd Neame said
I am delighted to report a record set of results, with managed pubs our key driver of growth, and an impressive performance against our strategic objectives.
In recent years, we have worked hard to improve the quality of our pub estate and modernise our brand portfolio. We have created a much stronger business with sustainable cashflows and the skills and ambition for further growth.