Robinsons Brewery, one of the leading independent brewers and pub operators in the North West, owning over 280 pubs, has increased its turnover during the year ending 31 December 2016 by 7.9%, to £68.3m. Profit before tax was also up by 13.3% to £4.1m.
Results were boosted by a strong trading performance in all areas of the business and effective management of costs. Specifically, an increase in external sales where total revenue grew by 9.9%. This was driven by a 13% growth in sales in the off trade and growth in direct free trade. The managed estate also grew sales by 52% to £7.0m – due to the addition of The Mulberry in Conwy, Red Lion in Stockport, and The Oakwood in Glossop as well as an increased focus on food, premium drinks, and accommodation – while, despite having a smaller estate, the contribution from Robinsons’ tenanted estate continues to grow and improve.
In line with their strategy, Robinsons continues to invest heavily in the refurbishment of both its managed and tenanted estates, outlaying around £8.6m on maintenance and investments in 2016.
Robinsons’ managed estate now stands at 10 houses; with several major investments completed in 2016 including: The Mulberry in Conwy, Royal Ship in Dolgellau, and a new “runway bar” in the beer garden at The Airport near Manchester Airport. Furthermore, investment at the Queen’s Head in Troutbeck, which was devastated by fire in June 2014, straddled the year. These investments have created 123 new jobs.
Within the tenanted estate, which comprises of 270 pubs, Robinsons invested in 17 major development schemes in 2016 including: the George & Dragon in Beaumaris, Alvanley Arms in Cotebrook, Waggon & Horses in Matley, Ribchester Arms in Ribchester, and White Swan in Great Sutton. Impressively, Robinsons has invested over £12m and completed 73 refurbishments over the last 3 years.
In recent years, Robinsons have worked hard to improve the quality of their pub estate and to strengthen and modernise their family of beer brands.
Managing Director (Pub Division), William Robinson, said: “2016 was a good year but it was also a year of learnings and refinement. Our core tenanted business continues to trade well, benefitting from several years of investment in design, marketing, training, and tenant recruitment. We have some of the best pubs in the North West, run by some very talented and passionate people to whom we strive to provide the very best licensee support and training.”
“The growth and revenue from our managed estate is in line with expectations. Major investment in people and infrastructure is facilitating growth and further development in this area, and puts us in a strong position to take advantage of its future potential. Although there is still a lot of work, and a long way to go, we have a clear vision and a solid strategy for both our tenanted and managed pubs. Investments has been a key driver over the last 5 years and we will continue to invest in our pubs, our people, and our beers, to ensure we maintain this success.”
“We live in uncertain political and economic times. One of the biggest challenges we and our licensees face is increasing costs. These are predominantly being driven by external factors, rates re-valuation, National Living Wage, food inflation, Auto Enrolment, and the inflation in Beer Duty. Beyond these issues there is the potential challenges and opportunities that Brexit may bring. Thus, we remain vigilant.”
In early 2016, Robinsons launched a Greener Retailing project in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University; designed to measure portion sizes and presentation styles and ultimately help licensees reduce food waste and costs. Circa 30+ Robinsons pubs are now taking part benefitting from annual average savings of 1,758kg (nearly 2 tonnes) of food waste, equating to a saving of £3,000 per pub.
Licensee support continues to play a significant part of Robinsons’ offer. Following the launch of their new style tenancy agreement in late 2014, 52% of their pubs are now let under this arrangement. Furthermore, 96.5% of their tenanted pubs are now let on a substantive tenancy agreement.
Robinsons Visitors Centre had another successful year with increased visitor numbers and was awarded the North-West Visitor Attraction of the Year in the Going Places UK Tourism Awards.
Managing Director (Beer Division), Oliver Robinson, said: “2016 was a very active year with a strong set of results. Despite being in a challenging market, our brew house continues to perform well, driven by 13% growth in off trade sales, as our beers become more widely available. We are now dealing with all the major off trade grocers. We’re seeing double digit sales growth in national sales and continued growth in free trade. These areas of the business, together with export, are becoming increasingly important in our sales mix and we expect this growth to continue in the coming years.”
“We have adapted well to changes in brewing demand and styles as we reinvigorate our beer strategy and offer greater variety and choice for our customers. We converted two fermenting vessels to take smaller brew batches and this helped to increase capacity by circa 4,000 barrels per annum. In addition to our core range, we also launched 14 new bespoke beers during 2016; 5 of which were created in collaboration with our licensees and 2 new craft beers, Beardo and Mojo, brewed for the off trade. Our seasonal beers were up 6% versus 2015 demonstrating the increasing need for innovation to move forward in a crowded market. Once again, Trooper continues to perform extremely well in the export market and we have even bigger plans for 2018 as the beer approaches its 5th anniversary.”
Robinsons beers won several awards in 2016, including: Gold at the World Beer Awards for Old Tom, Silver at the International Beer Challenge for Dizzy Blonde, and Silver at the BBI Awards for Trooper and Trooper Red N’ Black. Director, David Robinson, also accepted a Life Achievement Award from the British Bottling Institute on behalf of the Company.
Robinsons continue to look to acquire the “right” pubs to further strengthen their portfolio and to focus on making the “right” investment decisions for the long term, organic evolution of their business.