Wolverhampton & Dudley has reported a record financial year, as acquisition boosted performance and key divisions performed strongly.

The UK regional brewer said today (1 December) that turnover for the year was up by 7.1% to GBP595.5m (US$1.17bn). The climb includes sales from Celtic Inns, which was acquired in March for GBP43.3m. Underlying operating margin increased to 25.6%.

The performance was achieved, despite significant cost and legislative pressures, by maximising synergies from acquisitions, transferring smaller managed pubs to tenancy, and good cost control, the company said.

Underlying profit before taxation increased by 13.2% to GBP101.5m. Underlying earnings per share were up by 14% to 95.1 pence per share. Basic earnings per share after exceptional items were 95.1 pence per share.

Ralph Findlay, W&D CEO, said: "These record results reflect the appeal of our high quality pubs and brands, supported by the successful integration of recent acquisitions. Trading in the new financial year has been strong, benefiting from good weather. We continue to drive value from our high quality pub estate, beer brands and integrated model."

Looking forward, chairman David Thompson added: "Detailed plans are in place in preparation for the impending smoking ban in England and Wales, which is due to come into force during the summer of 2007 in England, and possibly earlier in Wales. Our investment plans, both in managed and tenanted pubs, are well advanced.

"Although we remain cautious because of cost pressures affecting consumers and our own cost base, we are confident that our high quality estate, strong balance sheet, conservative financing and strong cash flow will enable us to continue to exploit opportunities for further profitable growth," he added.

W&D also announced today that it is changing its name to Marstons - the name of one of its beer brands - to reflect the fact that it is now a national business, rather than a regional one. The change will help the company to promote its pubs across the country, it said.