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Fullers returns to profit in half-year results

Premium pub and hotel operator, Fuller's has published its financial results for the 26 weeks to 25 September 2021.

The group has reported an adjusted profit of £4.6m, after being down £22.2m during its first six months in last year’s results.

EBITDA has also risen over the period to £22.8m after being in negative figures in last year’s results.

The company has now managed like-for-like sales for seven weeks to 13 November at 90 per cent of 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

Financial & operational summary
• Business is rebuilding well – profitable first half, despite only being free of restrictions
for nine full weeks of the period
• Business is cash-generative, and trade is continually increasing
• Started the financial year with all pubs and hotels closed – gradual reopening from
April, with all sites reopened in July
• £52m equity placing successfully completed in April 2021 to strengthen the
balance sheet and ensure the company exited the pandemic in a strong position
• Continue to face well-documented industry cost pressures – but business is well
funded and in a good position to tackle headwinds
• Business remains firmly underpinned by its predominately freehold estate of iconic,
high quality pubs and hotels.

Strategic update
• Used period of closure and quieter trading to continue investing in our
predominately freehold estate, ensuring our pubs and hotels are in excellent
condition
• Built on consumer demand for a premium experience with transformational
refurbishments – including opening our first new Bel & The Dragon site at The Red
Lion, Wendover
• Invested in infrastructure – new finance system, Microsoft Business Central, due
to go live on Monday 22 November 2021
• Further development underway for its booking engines, pub websites and CRM
system to improve the customer’s digital booking journey, communication and
internal connectivity between systems

Current trading & outlook
• Managed like-for-like sales for seven weeks to 13 November 2021 at 90% of 2019
levels
• Tenanted Inns performing ahead of plan
• Rural pubs and hotels continue to perform above 2019 levels
• Excellent performance from Cotswold Inns & Hotels
• Central London pubs showing steady growth – which will benefit from the further
return of international tourists
• Low level of net debt, reduced by £3.3m to £128.2m since the period end
• New Bel & The Dragon site planned for The George & Dragon at Westerham

Chief Executive Simon Emeny (pictured) said, “While the first half of this financial year has been a story of slowly returning to some semblance of what was known as normality, I am proud of what we have achieved.

'We have used the time wisely, planning for the future, further improving our already robust infrastructure and focusing on our people, our properties, our supplier relationships and our systems.

“Like-for-like sales in our Managed Pubs and Hotels continue to grow steadily and for the seven weeks to 13 November 2021 stand at 90% of 2019 levels. Christmas bookings are in good shape and there is clearly continued appetite from our customers to get out and socialise with friends and family.'

Emeny continued, “During the second half of the year, we will continue to develop our business through investment in property and infrastructure. At our pubs and hotels, this will include further winterisation projects at sites including The Head of the River in Oxford and The Red Lion in Barnes, as well as transformational schemes at The White Star Hotel in Southampton among others.

'In a further commitment to continually premiumising our offer, we will also be rolling out our next Bel & The Dragon at The George & Dragon in Westerham.

“Our infrastructure projects will also be coming to fruition in the coming months, starting with the roll out of Microsoft Business Central, our new finance package, which goes live on Monday 22 November 2021 – just in time for the arrival of our new Finance Director, Neil Smith, who comes with a wealth of relevant industry experience and starts at the end of November.

'We will complete our wider digital transformation projects with upgraded pub websites and our improved CRM system providing a fantastic digital shop window and even more targeted communications based on our customers’ existing behaviours.'

Emeny went on, “We are pleased with the steady growth we are seeing across our pubs and hotels and we will benefit as international tourists return and office workers continue to head back to their desks and colleagues.

'There are a number of well-documented issues facing the industry as a whole and, while we are not immune, we are a long-standing business that is well funded, backed by a substantial, predominately freehold estate, and has the benefit of experience to help us navigate through.'

Emeny concluded, “Our vision and strategy are clear, consistent and relevant. We have a well-balanced business in both style and geography and we have a first-class team of dedicated people right across the Company. Fuller’s has, and always will have, a long-term view and a strategic plan that reflects that – and we will continue to deliver it.'