Announcing its preliminary results for the year ended 1 April 2001, Belhaven Brewery one of Scotland's leading regional brewers reported record sales and profits for the fifth consecutive year since flotation.

Operating profit for the group was up 19.6% from £7.35m (US$10.4m) to £8.78m with a pre-tax profit rise of 17.4% from £6.35m to £7.46m. Earnings per share also increased from 25.5p to 31.4p, up 23.1%.

Commenting on the results, Stuart Ross chief executive said: "Belhaven remains committed to the strategy which has assiduously and successfully been pursued since the present management team took control of the business.

"We have experienced a good start to the financial year with sales in both divisions comfortably ahead of the previous year and we are very proud of our record since flotation of the business in 1996. Earnings per share having grown in that period by 140% and our rate of progress has considerably outpaced the results of our competitors," he continued.

Belhaven Drinks also achieved operating profit uplift from £4.37m (prior year comparatives exclude impairment write down of £773,000 are pro-rated from 53 weeks to 52 weeks) to £4.91m, up 12.4% driven by a barrelage increase of 5.2% as well as improved margins.

"Our principal activity in Belhaven Drinks is the sale and distribution to the Scottish on-licensed trade of a broad portfolio of beer, cider and soft drink products which include our own Belhaven ales and those brewed by our key lager supplier, Bass," Ross added.

After acquiring 15 pubs from Maclay Group Plc in February 2001 for £4.5m as well as finalising a five-year licensing deal with the company for Maclay beer brands in Scotland, Belhaven has also entered into a five-year agreement with Maclay whereby it exclusively supplies beers, ciders and soft drinks to the 18 Scottish pubs owned by Maclay and its associated Enterprise Investment Scheme companies.

Belhaven also plans to introduce a new advertising campaign for Belhaven Best using the strapline: "The Best is yet to come."

Commenting Ross said: "The performance of Belhaven Best since its introduction in 1991 gained significant independent recognition when it was awarded to Scottish Marketing Millennium Award. And the marketing plan for Best has produced excellent results with sales volume up 5.8% in the year."