The group operates 472 pubs mainly in the North West and North Wales, and also in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and West and South Yorkshire.

  • Operating profits UP 20%

  • Profit before tax and property disposals UP 30%

  • Basic earnings per share UP 36% to 22.6p

  • Total dividends for the year UP 10% to 7.35p

  • A 20% increase in full-year operating profit to 8.22 m pounds sterling compared to 6.87 m pounds is announced today (Wednesday 21 June) by Burtonwood Brewery, based at Burtonwood, Warrington, Cheshire.

    Chairman Graeme Dutton-Forshaw reports: "This significant improvement reflects increased margins and strict cost controls within the business. Furthermore, with the interest charge reduced to 1.58 m pounds (1999: 1.77 m pounds), profits before tax and property losses increased by 30% to 6.64 m pounds (1999: 5.10 m pounds).

    In a challenging environment, profits after tax rose by 37% to 4.79 m pounds (1999: 3.5m pounds) and earnings per share by 36% to 22.6 p (1999:16.6 p).

    A final dividend of 5.00 p (1999: 4.56 p) per ordinary share makes the total dividend for the year 7.35 p (1999: 6.68 p), an increase of 10%.

    Mr. Dutton-Forshaw, who retires in March next year, adds: "In the last three years profits before tax and exceptional items have nearly doubled from 3.5 m pounds to a record 6.6 m pounds and we have achieved many of the strategic objectives which we set ourselves during this period."

    In a review of operations Lynne D'Arcy, managing director, says that the company's tenanted pubs increased turnover by 6% and profits by 8% and "within this excellent overall performance, draught beer and lager volumes were maintained but there has been a dramatic increase in sales of bottled products especially flavoured alcoholic beverages."

    Managed pub profits showed a strong increase, rising 14% to 2.93 m pounds on turnover which was marginally ahead at 15.1 m pounds (1999: 14.7 m).

    She adds, "The group remains in a strong financial position with funds available to expand."

    Reporting on Thomas Hardy Burtonwood Ltd, which operates the brewery at Burtonwood and in which the company has a 40% investment, Lynne D'Arcy says, "it has recently procured substantial contracts for brewing ale and lager. Additional investment is being made by that company to expand the facilities on the site."

    Looking ahead, she says: "Our continuing strategy is focused on maintaining the quality of the estate by selective capital expenditure, expanding the business through the acquisition of additional tenancies and increasing the return on capital of the managed houses by further rationalisation." She adds: "We have made excellent progress in the last three years to reposition the group. Whilst there are still challenges for our industry to face we are confident that significant shareholder value can be created either by acquisitions or by the delivery of increased income from our existing outlets."

    On prospects, Lynne D'Arcy says: "Tradings so far this year is at budgeted levels and, if this trend continues, we can expect to deliver another creditable performance in the year ahead."