Shepherd Neame has reported a 7% rise in underlying profits for the first half of its financial year.

The UK regional brewer and pub group said yesterday (27 March) that operating profit before exceptionals rose by 7.2% to GBP6.8m (US$13.3m). For the six months to 30 December, turnover rose 3.5% to GBP50.6m.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: "Shepherd Neame has delivered another strong result. We are confident that trading will continue to show similar progress in the second half."

Shepherd Neame said that the decision to upgrade its IT hardware had cost it GBP1.2m and added that it expects to incur further charges during the second of the financial year.

Beer volumes rose by 3.4% due to growth from Shepherd Neame's core brands and Japanese beer Asahi, which the Kent-based company brews under licence for the UK market.

Sales from the company's managed pub business rose 4.8%. From its tenanted estate, sales were up 6.1%, Shepherd Neame said.