Robinsons Brewery returns to profit after Covid-19 disruption

A 180-year-old family-run Stockport brewery has announced a return to profit after revenues were hampered during the pandemic.

Robinsons Brewery, which operates 254 pubs, inns and hotels across the North West, has generated an operating profit of £4.5m for the year to the end of December 2021.

That is despite being closed for the first four months of the year due to Covid-19 restrictions in place  when pubs and restaurants were either closed or operating under tight restrictions.

The company, which has invested more than £3.5m across its managed and tenanted pub estates, also announced plans to invest further in 2022 and beyond.

Joint managing directors, William and Oliver Robinson, said: “Disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic eased in 2021 compared with 2020 but still impacted trading for a considerable part of the year with pubs in England and Wales closed completely in the first quarter, and significant restrictions in place until mid-May with some lesser restrictions returning in December.

“In between these restrictions, consumers began to return to pre-pandemic habits with strong trading across most of our pub estate.

“We continued to support our licensees during the year through rent reductions and support with their grant applications.

“We were grateful for the governments continued support through the furlough scheme, reduced VAT rate and a reduction in business rates. Notwithstanding this support, we contributed more to the Exchequer in business taxes than we received in support, with a net contribution of £3.7m.”

During the period sales grew from £45.6m to £63.3m which helped generate an operating profit of £4.5m from a loss of £6.8m in 2020.

Pre-tax profit was £15.4m compared to a pre-tax loss of £4.7m in the previous year.

The company’s performance was helped “by some significant land disposals, and their continuing programme of pub refurbishments.”

CGI of the new headquarters

Significant investments were made at the Bulls Head, Marple, Lawton Arms, Church Lawton, and the King William, Wilmslow, with refurbishment and extensions also made to the Wheatsheaf Inn, Kendal, part of Robinsons’ Individual Inns pubs collection, alongside the recent acquisition of the Woodman Inn, West Yorkshire and the Swettenham Arms, Congleton which was acquired in August 2021.

The joint MDs added: “We continue to engage with the government on the disproportionate tax burden pubs and breweries face, through business rates, beer duty and VAT.

“This has been further exacerbated by unprecedented cost-price inflation caused by global uncertainty and the crisis in Ukraine.

“It is more important than ever that we strive for great service and premium experiences whilst supporting our loyal licensees running our more wet-led pubs.”

Robinsons said it plans to invest further in its tenanted pubs and growing their managed pub estate, with large scale investments planned in the next two-years.

Earlier this year, the brewery signed contracts with SSV for the installation of the new brewhouse at their Bredbury Packaging Centre, the first phase of their plan to consolidate their head office, brewing and packaging functions onto one site.

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