UK-based pubs and bars group Fuller, Smith and Turner has unveiled a promising set of results for the twelve-month period to the end of March, with normalised pretax profits before exceptionals rising to £16.42m (US$27.04m) from £14.95m in the previous year.

This was broadly in line with analysts' forecasts, while pretax profit came in at £17m, up from £9.8m.

Turnover showed a healthy 4% improvement to £137.64m from £132.39m in the year-ago period, with sales in the hotels division rising 31% despite a challenging market. Beer profits rose 18% while own-beer volumes climbed 6%.

The Tenanted division showed strong results with average profit per house up 7%, which Fullers attributed to the improving quality of its estate. A difficult trading environment, notably in the City, continued to impact the Managed Pubs and Bars arm, the company said, but the company nevertheless managed to improve gross margins.

Total capital expenditure for the year was £12m (2002: £26.2m), over two thirds of which related to enhancing the existing business, Fuller said.

A final dividend of 11.37 pence will be paid to shareholders, giving a total payout of 16.12 pence.

Chairman Anthony Fuller said that trading in the early weeks of the current financial year had been satisfactory taking into account the impact of a late Easter.

Fuller recently announced it would launch its traditional English ale varieties across Canada - just-drinks.com members can find out more here.