Fuller's grows despite economic downturn

British brewer and pub chain Fuller’s has reported growth in all parts of its business despite the economic climate, putting its success down to its London focus.

Fuller Smith and Turner, whose most famous brand is London Pride, reported pre-tax profits of £16.5m in the six months to October, up five per cent on the equivalent period last year.

Overall sales jumped six per cent in the period, with consumers apparently still willing to spend in the downturn.

Fuller’s chairman Michael Turner said, “This is a solid set of results, driven by growth in all parts of the business."

“I think London, in particular, has been more resilient to the downturn. At the moment, however, consumer trends are unbelievably difficult to spot, there's a bigger variation than has ever been the case before."

Fuller’s owns 362 pubs and hotels in London and the south east of England, and has bought 12 pubs since the end of last year.

The company has increased bank facilities available for new purchases, and says it intends to continue to expand.

The company runs both managed pubs and tenanted inns, and both saw profits rise.

Analysts were divided on the company’s future, with Douglas Jack of Numis agreeing with Turner that its London orientation was a benefit.

He said that given the increase in like-for-like trading and the expansion of the business Numis were upgrading its forecasts for the company’s profits.

But investment bank Panmure Gordon's analysts were more cautious, pointing out that rival Young’s had reported 5.4 per cent growth in like-for-like sales for the same period and saying Fuller’s shares were currently over-valued.

The company’s share price rose on the results to reach 711.9 pence at 11:30 am.