Fullers ‘positioned for long-term success’ post-Brexit

Reporting a 7% rise in revenue to total £431.1 million in the year ending 30 March 2019, UK pub operator Fullers has said it is “positioned for long-term success” post-Brexit after the sale of its beer business to Asahi earlier this year.

While the £250 million sale to Japanese drinks giant Asahi was confirmed during the last financial year, the deal will actually be completed “post-year end”.

Chief executive Simon Emeny addressed the sale in his statement, calling the deal which was announced in January this year “a transformational move” that has “changed the face” of the company.

“Fuller’s has always taken decisions for the very long term and this sale was no exception,” he said. “It gives us an even clearer focus on sustainable growth from the higher margin part of our business and has the added advantage of putting us in a strong position to deal with potentially turbulent times ahead as the UK navigates the implications of exiting the European Union.”

EBITDA was also up 3% to £73.2 million, with Fullers’ managed pubs and hotels seeing like-for-like sales growth of 4.9% and its tenanted inns witnessing profit growth of 1%.

Emeny said that the company’s pubs and hotel business was in “robust health”. For the first 16 weeks of the new financial year, Fullers has seen total revenue in managed pubs and hotels rise by 2.3%, but profits at its tenanted inns fell by 3%.

This, Emeny said is due to “some incredibly tough comparatives”, with last year witnessing “hot weather and football fervour”.

He added: “This is a transformational period for Fuller, Smith & Turner, which coincides with a great deal of political and economic uncertainty. However, we can see a clear way ahead for the company. With an exceptionally strong balance sheet, a predominantly freehold estate and a proven long-term business model, there will be undoubted opportunities and we are perfectly poised to leverage those over time as we embark on the next phase in our history.”

In addition to the sale of its beer business, in the last financial year, Fullers acquired 11 new sites – six former Bel & The Dragon pubs in the home counties and four bars in the City of London. It also opened The Signal Box at Euston station.

Fullers now runs 180 tenanted pubs and 204 managed pubs and hotels, with a total of 173 sites within the M25. It also owns cider and pizza restaurant business The Stable, which has 16 sites in England and Wales.

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