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04-Feb-2010: Interim Management Statement

Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C. ('Fuller's' or 'the Company') today releases the following Interim Management Statement for the 44 week trading period to 30 January 2010.

The Company has traded strongly since we last reported our performance. In the 11 weeks to 30 January 2010, like for like sales in Managed Pubs and Hotels grew by 2.6%, bringing the like for like sales growth for the full 44 weeks to 2.8%. Like for like profits in the Tenanted Inns division were down 2% for the 44 weeks to 30 January 2010. Own Beer volumes for the Fuller's Beer Company for the 18 weeks to 30 January 2010 grew 1%, with a 2% increase for the full 44 weeks.

Our Managed Pubs and Hotels enjoyed record sales in December and The Fuller’s Beer Company sold a record volume of own beer in the same period. The severe weather in January has taken the gloss off these sales, although our staff’s warm hospitality and determination to continue trading whenever at all possible has gained us new friends and customers.

The Company's balance sheet and cash generation remain strong. Since the half year we have acquired two pubs – The Railway, Kew for the Tenanted Inns division and The Holly Bush, Hampstead for Managed Pubs and Hotels. This takes the total number of pubs within the estate to 367. Following these acquisitions, at the end of the third quarter on 26 December 2009, net debt was £108m and net debt to EBITDA (pro forma for the acquisitions made in the last 12 months) remained under 2.5x. Including these and prior pub acquisitions made within the year, we expect total capital expenditure for the year to be approximately £44m.

Our bank facility of £85m matures in November 2010 and we have recently started a formal process to refinance this debt. We are pleased with the level of interest that we have received to date and are confident of our ability to refinance these obligations on competitive terms.

Today we are announcing a second interim dividend of 5.35p per 40p ordinary ‘A’ and ‘C’ share (2009: nil) and 0.535p per ordinary 4p ‘B’ share (2009: nil), to be paid on 5 March 2010 to shareholders on the register on 12 February 2010. This takes the total paid during the year to 9.85p per ordinary 40p ‘A’ and ‘C’ share, the same as last year’s total dividend. The Board also expects to recommend a small final dividend in June, which would therefore represent the year-on-year increase to the total dividend. There is no change to our policy of a progressive annual dividend.

As previously announced on 8 December 2009, Tim Turner, Commercial Director, will retire from the Board at the end of March 2010. Richard Fuller who has worked for Fuller’s since 1984 and was appointed a Divisional Director with responsibility for Sales in 1992 joined the Board on 8 December 2009 as an Executive Director.

We remain cautious about the UK economic outlook and the prospects for our customers for 2010 and beyond. With inflation set to increase and tax rises and spending cuts inevitable after the general election, we will have to compete even harder for our customers’ business. This caution aside, we have ridden out this recession well and look set to exceed our previous expectations for our financial performance for the year to 27 March 2010.

The Company will next report on 11 June 2010 when it releases its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 27 March 2010.

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For further information, please contact:
Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C.
Press Office 020 8996 2175/2198/2048
Mobile: 07824 815 366

Michael Turner: Press 020 8996 2048
James Douglas: Analysts 020 8996 2048

Merlin 020 7653 6620
Paul Downes 07900 244 888 (mobile)

Category: Interim Management Statement

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