Premium pub company and brewery Upham Group more than doubled underlying earnings in the six months to 2 July, as customers flocked to the countryside pubs for special occasions.
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The group, which has 16 pubs across the South of England and a Hampshire-based brewery, increased total sales by almost 25 per cent to £7.1m.
Most of the growth was from the group's £45.3m estate of owned or managed pubs, which brought in £6.9m in sales, up 25.9 per cent from £5.5m this time last year. Upham Brewery sales grew 0.9 per cent to £240,000.
As a result, underlying earnings more than doubled to £344,000.
Overall pre-tax loss was £400,000 for the first half but the group said it expects the total result for the full year to be a profit of £250,000.
Occasions provided a boost for the group's pubs, with Mother's Day becoming its first £100,000 sales day on record, followed by two more on 10 June and 1 July.
The Mill at Gordleton in Hordle, Hampshire was also named 'Wedding Venue of the Year' by hospitality guide Les Routiers.
This all comes at a time when inflation and other cost pressures have created a difficult trading environment for the pub industry. The level of alcohol duty recently prompted a call from industry bodies to lower the rate, saying it threatens British pubs.
But Upham has seen like-for-like sales grow faster than the industry average at 4.1 per cent. It also managed to largely cling onto its margin, which slid slightly to 73.5 per cent compared to 74.2 per cent in 2016.
Upham said today that further acquisitions could be on the table, which would add to the group's current portfolio, which covers affluent rural and semi-rural areas in Hampshire, Berkshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire and Surrey.
While the company is primarily a hospitality business, it also expanded the offering of its brewery this year with the launch of UB5, its craft beer. Upham said UB5 is one of only 10 craft beers selected by Enterprise Inns for a national listing trial and that it has received positive initial responses from both Tesco and Waitrose buyers.
Chris Phillips, CEO of Upham, commented: “It has been a good six months for the Upham Group, in which we have seen significant activity and progress. We have been extremely pleased by the reception of our first craft beer, UB5, and the performance of our newest addition to the portfolio, the Weighbridge Brewhouse. We continue to assess acquisition opportunities where we believe we can maximise revenue streams, and look forward to further building our estate so that even more customers can enjoy our premium pubs and beers.”