Britain's oldest brewer sold 75 million pints last year

Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewery, had a pretty good year.

The Kent brewery, which was founded in 1698, on Wednesday put out full-year results that show pre-tax profit up 9.4% to £9.6 million, with rising sales in its pub and hotel business, as well as rising sales of its core beer range.

Overall revenue 0.3% fell to £138.3 million, but this was because Shepherd Neame stopped contract brewing as planned. Contract brewing is where a brewery uses its equipment to produce beer on behalf of another business or beer maker. Shepherd Neame used to produce Indian beer Kingfisher lager in the UK.

Instead, Shepherd Neame is now just focusing on making and selling its own beer. Shepherd Neame makes some of Britain’s best know ales, such as Spitfire and Bishops Finger.

It also has a more “trendy” brand, Whitstable Bay, which produces things like pale ale and a blonde lager.

And Shepherd Neame also brews highly popular Japanese lager Asahi and US “craft lager” Samuel Adams under licence in the UK. This is a different set up to contract brewing, as Shepherd Neame also sells these beers in the UK.

All in all, Shepherd Neame sold 261,000 barrels of beer last year, equivalent to 75.1 million pints.

CEO Jonathan Neame says in today’s statement: “Whilst the industry remains very competitive we are confident that we have a robust strategic, geographic and financial base from which to continue to grow.”

Chairman Miles Templeman says that the new National Living Wage recently announced by the government will “provide a cost challenge in due course” due to the 338 pubs Shepherd Neame owns, where many staff are likely on low wages.

But Templeman adds: “We believe we have the skills to manage these risks, the ambition to seek new opportunities and a strong pipeline of investment potential within the existing asset base to grow the Company.”

So a good year to come too.

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