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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 09:41 GMT
Sales and profits up at S&N
Beer pumps inside a pub
Improving sales in its major markets have helped brewer Scottish & Newcastle to post a rise in full year profits.

Turnover rose 17.1% to 5.5bn from 4.7bn a year earlier, while pre-tax profits rose to 471m from 467m.

The brewer said volumes of Newcastle Brown Ale rose 9% while Foster's was up 5% and Kronenbourg 4%.

But chief executive Tony Froggatt warned summer sales in Western Europe are unlikely to be as buoyant as last year due to weak consumer confidence.

As a result, Mr Froggatt said, the UK's biggest brewer will focus on building its powerful brands.

He added enhancing operational efficiency would strengthen the group's competitive position in all its markets.


The group has already taken steps towards cutting costs.

John Smiths
Kronenbourg 1664
Newcastle Brown Ale
S&N is in the midst of restructuring its UK beer division, Scottish Courage, which has been hit by a drop in beer prices as UK pub operators consolidate and competition heats up in the take-home trade from supermarkets.

Last week the firm said it was closing its 150-year old Fountainbridge brewery in Edinburgh - a move that will see it cut around 170 jobs and save around 10m in 2005.

And late last year it offloaded its pubs division for 2.5bn.

The company, which saw sales grow in the UK, France and Russia, said it was now aiming to create an integrated European business.

But Mr Froggatt declined to comment further on the group's strategy following the sale of the Fountainbridge brewery.

It also has four sites at Reading, Newcastle, Manchester and Tadcaster.

Sale rumours

And last week speculation was rife that the firm was about to sell off its Newcastle site.

The chief executive said: "When we take actions like this it is very tough for us and we know it is very tough for our employees and obviously we are very sensitive to that."

The worst-performing stock in the FTSE-100 index in 2003, S&N has had a strong run since the start of the year, in part on speculation it might attract a takeover bid.

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