Charles Wells reports steady rise in turnover & operating profit

Charles Wells has announced an increase of 4% in operating profit before exceptional costs alongside a steady programme of investment in its assets.

The Bedford based brewer and pub operator recorded an operating profit of £8m in its annual accounts for the year to September 2015, attributed to steady sales margins and strong cost control across the group. Turnover rose by £1.7m to £188.9m in the same period whilst total borrowings were reduced from £51.2m to £49.8m.

Investment of over £3m has been committed to improvements within the brewery including replacement of the Brewhouse control system and £2.5m was spent on the UK tenanted & leased estate within an overall refurbishment budget of £4m. Charles Wells also expanded its managed house portfolio with four sites now in its Apostrophe pubs division.

An ongoing focus on property development and licensee support contributed to an improvement in licensee retention rates with 96% of recent appointments still being in place after 18 months and 84% after 36 months, up 4% on last year.

CEO Justin Phillimore said, “The year has been one of steady progress in many areas. Beer sales volume increased and in retailing we invested in new pub developments to good effect.

“Improved sales were driven by new products and marketing promotions, with Young’s London Stout and Estrella Damm demonstrating particularly effective marketing and vigorous sales. Outside the UK volumes were impacted by a number of factors, including the weakening Euro and further sanctions in Russia, yet we retained our proportion of sales outside the UK at 17% of total sales.

He continued, “Equally, our French pubs weathered the economic downturn in France and ongoing negotiations enabled us to purchase two pubs subsequent to the year end, bringing our total to 13 sites. Our new concept, the English Country Kitchen, has been building a reputation in the blossoming tea room market and is recording a good level of turnover.”

“We have had many challenges and consumer confidence still seems to be recovering but we have made great progress and our plans will continue to deliver results in 2016. I am confident that the hard work and commitment of everyone at Charles Wells will drive development of our beer brand and pub portfolio even further, ensuring that the consumer remains at the heart of everything we do.”