St Austell Brewery has posted record sales for 2022.
Despite the challenging economic conditions, annual turnover grew by 34% to £209.2 million – surpassing pre-pandemic sales by 10%.
The business also reported an increased underlying operating profit of £11.4 million in the 52-week period December 31, 2022.
Sales in the company’s managed pub estate have seen very strong growth in 2023 so far, with momentum steadily building.
In the 23 weeks to June 10, like-for-like (LFL) sales were up 12% with growth accelerating in recent weeks. The last four weeks of trading to June 10 show LFL sales up 20%.
Non-executive chairman Will Michelmore, said: “I am pleased to report that the company achieved record sales in 2022 and grew its profitability. Despite the impacts of the pandemic beginning to abate at the start of the year, the economic challenges facing the business continued to intensify due to external factors – largely beyond our control – which significantly increased the cost of doing business.
“Against this backdrop, we still achieved sales growth, significantly improved the profitability of our beer business, and made good progress against our objective of releasing the full potential of our high-quality pub estate.
“Despite the current challenging environment, we are optimistic about our long-term prospects and remain confident that we have the leadership, talented teams, and focused strategy to ensure the company’s future success.”
Chief executive, Kevin Georgel, said: “We entered 2022 in a strong position, having seen our profitability recover to near pre-pandemic levels and with a refreshed and clear strategic direction. However, external cost pressures beyond our control have required us to navigate numerous challenges. These include the extraordinary increases in energy costs, the highest rate of inflation for over 40 years, ongoing shortages in the labour market, and reduced visitor numbers in our region.
“Despite these challenges we had a record year for sales. In our beer business, the strength of our brands and continued improvements in efficiencies enabled us to also deliver record profits. We remain fully committed to building on our brewing reputation, as highlighted when we invested into North Cornwall’s Harbour Brewing Company in November.
“Our underlying operating profits across the group were also ahead of the previous year. The fact that we have increased profitability, despite the headwinds, is testament to our teams and our tenants. I would like to thank them all for their continued hard work and commitment.
“We remain committed to ensuring that a visit to one of our pubs, or drinking one of our beers, represents good value for our customers and does not become an occasional treat. Therefore, we have sought to mitigate the cost increases as best we can and improve the overall experience. However, the withdrawal of Government support and the increase in taxation and regulation is adding to the already escalating cost of doing business which disincentivises investment.
“Having successfully completed our refinancing in March, we continue to have significant headroom in our funding. This will allow us to continue investing in our business and pursuing attractive acquisition opportunities. However, we urge the government to work harder to create conditions which incentivise investment and support businesses that are committed to growth.
“In summary, we are confident that our financial performance compares strongly with the market and builds on our recovery from the pandemic. We remain focused on unlocking the full potential of our business and taking advantage of growth opportunities which lie ahead.”