London Pride brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner has grown beer volume sales and operating profits in a shrinking UK market in its most recent fiscal year.

Volume sales of own-brewed beer rose by 2% for the 12 months to 27 March, compared to the previous year, Fuller, Smith & Turner said today (11 June).

"We gained share in the UK ale market where our volumes grew by 1% in a market that shrank 5%," said the brewer and pub owner. "In the Off Trade, our volumes grew by 4% in a market that grew by 1%." A 13% rise in export volumes lifted the group further.

Net sales of beer rose by 7% to GBP97.9m (US$144m), compared to GBP91.8m a year earlier. Operating profits in beer also rose by 7% to GBP8.9m, excluding exceptional items, despite rises in duty tax and raw material costs, said Fuller's.

The firm opened a new distribution centre in Hampshire during the year.

A strong performance in beer reflected improvements across the Fuller's business during the year.

The group reported net sales up by 8% to GBP227.7m, versus GBP210m in the prior year. Net profits rose to GBP19.2m versus GBP8.9m a year earlier, when the group saw earnings damaged by one-off charges.

"With the UK national debt so large and measures to tackle this through tax rises and public spending cuts now being implemented by the new Government we continue to be very cautious about the outlook for the UK economy," said Fuller's in its outlook.

Own beer volume sales were level with last year for the ten weeks to 5 June, it added.