The independent UK brewer and pub-owner Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries said today that trading over the summer months has been strong, following the good first half-year performance reported in May.

In its Pathfinder Pubs, invested like-for-like sales increased from 2.8% in the first half to 3.6% in the 26 weeks to 25 September, and by 3.2% for the full 52-week period. Like-for-like sales in The Union Pub Company were 4.3% ahead of last year for the same 52-week period.

Overall, W&D said, margins remained firm and the results for the year as a whole are anticipated to be in line with its expectations.

The comany said that the integration of the Wizard Inns estate, acquired in June, into Pathfinder Pubs had been well executed and completed ahead of schedule, with the anticipated benefits being realised.

"Trading is in line with our expectations, and we see considerable development potential in the estate," a statement said.

Overall, the company said, certain costs will increase next year for reasons outside its direct control.

"Energy costs, the national minimum wage, and Sky TV costs are all rising by significantly more than inflation. We expect to mitigate these cost increases, which in total add up to approximately £5m, by management action and continued tight operational control," the statement said.

Ralph Findlay, CEO, said: "We have again demonstrated that our focus on good quality community pubs and great beers is paying dividends with the planned returns on our investment programme being achieved. The pub sector is mature and under legislative and cost pressures, but we are performing well and developing good momentum."