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Charles Wells Ltd Announces End of Year Results

Charles Wells Ltd has reported profits up by 20 per cent on record turnover in results for the 52 weeks to September 2008 published today (9 December 2008).

These results mark the second set of financial accounts since the formation of Wells and Young’s Brewing Company and Charles Wells Pub Company’s move to a purely leased and tenanted pub estate. Turnover increased by seven per cent to a record £225.1m with operating profit up 20 per cent to £10.5m.

Chief executive of Charles Wells Ltd, Paul Wells, says: “This was a tough year because of a tightening market, but these are an encouraging set of results. The economy has weakened since the summer so 2009 will be increasingly a challenge but our strategy in pubs and beer brands is paying off.”

Charles Wells Pub Company

Despite one of the most challenging years faced by the UK pub industry, Charles Wells Pub Company, with its clear strategy of putting customers and consumers first, achieved an operating profit of £6m, and EBITDA was up two per cent.

The pub company purchased three pubs in the UK at a cost of £3.2m, two pubs in France and continued its focus on investment in existing houses, with eight major refurbishments, and a total refurbishment investment of £3.8m. At September 2008 the company was operating 241 houses.

Sales volume of beer in the pub company fell by three per cent in the year against a market decline of over 8 per cent. Overall, there was a slight increase in total income per pub.

Wells says: “In this year we reviewed and strengthened the support we provide for our licensees so in the current market our pub trading figures are fairly robust. We are committed to investing and growing our pub estate but it’s hard to find pubs that are worth buying at the moment. The focus in 2009 will be to maintain the high quality of the estate, support our licensee partners and deliver a great pub experience to customers.”

Wells and Young’s Brewing Company

2008 saw Wells and Young’s sales of own-brewed beers reach a record level with growth of 8.3 per cent, and total beer sales grew 6.8 per cent in a UK market that declined by 8.4 per cent. This was driven by the continued success of flagship brands Wells Bombardier and Corona Extra, combined with the first full year’s contribution of the Courage brands.

Cask ale continues to be the strongest performer in the beer market and as one of the UK’s leading brewers of cask ale, Wells and Young’s are benefiting from this revival in interest for the great British drink. Bombardier has continued to show strong growth increasing by nearly eight per cent in the last year, Courage Best remains the number three standard cask ale in the UK and Young’s Bitter is the fastest selling standard cask ale in London.

Wells and Young’s expertise in premium lager are also evident with Red Stripe staying in growth at two per cent against a premium lager market decline of 11 per cent. In the off-trade, sales show a strong performance for Red Stripe with the beer of live music enjoying growth of 13 per cent on the previous year.

Corona Extra has added £5.6m to the premium packaged lager market in the last financial year, and shows strong volume performance in the on and off-trade, up nine per cent. In the on-trade, Corona is the number two PPL selling faster than eight of the other top ten PPLs, and in the off-trade, the Mexican beer remains the number one and fastest selling 4/6 pack in grocery multiples.

2008 also saw the launch of the first full range of bottled conditioned Young’s beers for the off-trade. Young’s Bitter and Young’s Special London Ale were re-launched during 2008 and joined by a new beer, Young’s Kew Gold. Already the three beers have claimed 14 per cent of the bottle conditioned sector - the fastest growing sector in the bottled beer category and have added nearly £2million to the premium bottled ale category.

Export sales saw a year of 30 per cent growth with both the Wells and Young’s beers contributing effectively to the business with no overlap in the range. Bedford-brewed beers are now available across the world from Canada to Russia and Australia. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout has proved a huge success in the US, growing by over 30 per cent with nine out of ten pints brewed exported there.

Cockburn & Campbell, the specialist wine division of Wells and Young’s also showed strong growth in direct sales of wine up five per cent. Exclusive agency brands Terra Mater from Chile and Alta Vista from Argentina, and a renewal of a long-term contract with leading Spanish Rioja wine producers, El Coto, saw sales increase 12 per cent.

Wells says: “Wells and Young’s has one of the most enviable ranges of cask, premium bottled ale, speciality lager brands and wines from any brewer. Our beer brands are out performing the market and we have seen a revival of interest in British cask beer. We intend to maintain investment behind our brands with the highest quality marketing to continue their growth.”

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For further information, contact:

Joanna Dring, Wells and Young’s. 01234 279209


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