|Fuller's in 'Position of Strength' After Transformational Year|
Results show company lost at least £10 million in first few weeks of pandemic
Fuller’s have published their latest annual results covering a period in which they sold their brewery business and the pandemic was just starting to have an impact.
In the year to March 2020 ,revenue for continuing operations was up by 3% to £333 million and profits rose sharply due to the sale to Asahi which boosted the bottom line by £162.4 million.
Although their pubs outperformed the industry up until the beginning of March with like for like sales rising by 2.3% tenanted inns struggled to match the revenues from the previous year which had been boosted by the World Cup with like for like profits down 3%
Their trading statement for 2019/20 says that the estimated impact of coronavirus for the year was in excess of £10 million despite their pubs and hotels only closing on 20 March, right at the end of the period covered.
Chief Executive Simon Emeny said, “When we released our interim statement in December 2019, we were on track to finish the financial year in a good position having received the proceeds from the sale of the Fuller’s Beer Business and with a clear future path laid out before us. It had been a transformational year for Fuller’s – but we would never have anticipated that we would end it in March with the whole hospitality industry in a state of closure and with no income stream.
“While it is too early to draw any meaningful conclusions, we are comfortable with the level of trade and we continue to monitor footfall in those areas where our pubs are not yet open. While we are prepared for business, particularly in London, to take some time to return to normal, we are well placed to satisfy the uptick in demand for staycations as many customers holiday closer to home”
The uncertain trading environment meant that for the first time in over seventy years, the company paid no final dividend. However, it was also the year in which they made their biggest ever pay out to shareholders due to the special dividend of £69 million relating to the brewery sale.
Their commitment to their Chiswick roots was underlined by the purchase of Pier House on Strand on the Green to house their support centre. Additionally, although they have announced the sale of The Stable group of pizza and cider restaurants to Three Joes, they have retained the freehold of the site near Kew Bridge. A spokesperson for the company said a decision has not yet been taken about what they will do with the site.
Fuller’s have started a phased reopening of their estate from 4 July with 163 Managed Pubs and Hotels and almost all Tenanted Inns open as of this week.
During the year they acquired Cotswold Inns & Hotels for an enterprise value of £40 million – which includes seven freehold sites and brings the number of hotel rooms they operate over one thousand.
The company also made a voluntary contribution of £24 million to their defined benefit pension scheme.
Company chair Michael Turner said, “ Fuller’s celebrates 175 years this year. While it may not feel like a time for celebrations today, we have survived global recessions, world wars, the devastating Spanish Flu epidemic and all manner of unexpected events during our history. Fuller’s is a company with time on its side and our long-term vision has never been more relevant. Your Company is in a position of strength as we exit lockdown.”
August 1, 2020