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Robinsons Brewery – a 180-year-old family run business from Stockport – reports a rise in turnover of 6.1% to a record £75.5m for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £71.2m the previous year. Profit before tax increased to £7.1m, compared with £3.2m last year.

L-R William Robinson MD Pub Division & Oliver Robinson MD Beer Division

The Stockport-based independent brewer and pub operator, which operates 255 pubs, inns and hotels across the North West, say this success was driven by record investment levels in recent years paying off, solid tenanted pub performance, and the continued progression of their evolving and growing managed house business.

Results were boosted by a strong trading performance in all areas of the business and effective management of costs. Specifically, sales in its 11-strong managed estate were up by 24.7% due to strategic acquisitions and an increased focus on food.

The 180-year-old family business added The Seacroft in Treaddur Bay in December 2018 which operates as a managed site.  The Four Alls in Caernarfon, which operates as a tenanted pub, and the George III in Penmaenpool near Dolgellau, which were acquired in 2017, have both now benefited from their planned and substantial investments and are trading successfully.

Furthermore, despite disposing of 8 pubs during 2018, the 244-strong tenanted estate saw like-for-like net income growth of 4.2% while operating profit grew by 4.9% year-on-year. During the financial year, Robinsons completed 19 major customer facing investments in their tenanted estate at a cost of £2.2m; including: The Smoker in Plumley and the Devonshire Arms in Mellor.

It’s no secret that Robinsons have worked hard to improve the quality of their pub estate in recent years. William Robinson, Managing Director (Pub Division), comments:Investment, licensee support and training have been key drivers over the last 5 years. During that time, we have invested £26.7m of capital expenditure and completed 127 refurbishments. As a result, our tenanted and managed pubs are in extremely good shape, trading well, and are in a strong position to continue to grow sales.” 

2018 wasn’t all roses for Robinsons. Increased business costs, a declining UK cask beer market, the ‘Beast from the East’ and a CO2 crisis all brought their own challenges for the 6th generation family business. Managing Director (Beer Division), Oliver Robinson, comments:2018 was both challenging and rewarding. We operate in uncertain political and economic times and face increasing costs: rates re-valuation, national living wage, food inflation, auto enrolment, beer duty inflation and the potential risks and opportunities that Brexit may bring. Furthermore, we operate in an era of national decline in cask beer and more consumers than ever abstaining from alcohol.”

Nevertheless, we performed well, both in-year and in preparation for the years to come.  This saw us plan for a very successful launch of our own Helles Lager Bier which is in over 100 pubs already and our own Stout.  The Old Tom stable of beers grew by 11% with great gains in off trade and export which has provided a strong platform for an exciting 2019 in which it celebrates its’ 120th birthday.  Soft drinks and spirit sales continue to outperform the market with 2018 growth of 11% and 15% respectively. After the ‘Beast from the East’ and associated appalling weather at the start of the year, the record-breaking temperatures over the summer and England’s successes in the World Cup provided a much-needed boost for our pubs. The CO2 shortages across Europe caused issues within our industry and beyond, however I am pleased to report we were able to continue to supply our pubs and customers without significant interruption.”

Looking to the future, William concluded: While we continue to grow our managed estate, our tenanted pubs remain a key part of our business. Our long-term strategy remains unchanged as we focus on developing our people, growing the quality of our pub estate through selective acquisitions and investment schemes, and creating high-quality beers that our customers love to drink. We have made a steady start to 2019 and are optimistic about the long-term sustainable success of the business.” 

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