Spitfire and Bishops Finger brewer Shepherd Neame today said sales remained strong after a further surge in demand for its bottled beers.
The Kent-based company recently expanded its bottling line after a 29% surge in volumes over the last year forced it to outsource some production.
The strong retail market, as consumers choose to drink at home during the recession, helped Shepherd report a 10.1% rise in total beer volumes for the first nine weeks of its financial year.
This followed a strong performance in the year to June 27, when beer volumes rose 6.3% and turnover lifted by nearly £8m to £109.5m.
Despite the sales boost, pre-tax profits fell to £6.9m, from £8.7m, due to higher raw material costs, the impact of alcohol duty hikes and the deteriorating performance of the weakest 10% of pubs in its estate.
It said costs were now reducing in line with expectations and it expected its operating margin to improve in the 2009/10 financial year.
The company sold 76 million pints and brewed and packaged another 64m pints for customers in the UK and 20 countries including France and Sweden. It operates 368 pubs in the South East, of which 321 are tenanted.
The best performance came from Asahi Super Dry, the Japanese beer brewed under licence, which grew sales by 38% amid strong demand in bars, restaurant and nightclubs. Shepherd said it expected sales will continue to grow into 2010.
Total sales of Spitfire were flat due to a decline in cask sales in pubs. Bishops Finger, now in its 50th year of production, enjoyed growth of 14%.