Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries is on the acquisition hunt, according to reports. Talking to The Guardian, chief executive Ralph Findlay said that the company had looked at up to four companies in the past year, but decided that the prices were too high.

"We continue to look at things all the time," he told the newspaper. "The sector is changing, there are likely to be further opportunities." Any future acquisitions would probably be financed through the debt, the paper says.

Sales in the brewery's managed Pathfinder hostelries and tenanted Union Pubs estate rose by 3.6% and 2.7% respectively in the 12 months to 27 September. This was despite strong performances in the same period last year.

Yesterday the brewer posted a fall in full year net profit of 7.7% to £38.5m from £41.7m a year ago.The company said it was hit by a £1.8m loss on the disposal of several of its high street pubs. However sales also fell 3% to £490.5m.

Despite the figures and continued cost pressure, though, W&D said the new financial year had started well. For the first eight weeks of the new financial year like-for-like turnover grew by 5% at its tenanted pubs, while the underlying gain from the managed hostelries was 3.1%.