Birmingham-based cider maker Aston Manor Brewery has cited a series of “operational challenges” and rising costs for a sharp fall in full-year profits, despite revenue jumping 35% to £106.7m. The company, whose brands include Kingstone Press and Malvern Press 81, saw pre-tax profits fall almost two thirds to £1.59m (2010: £4.26m) in the year to 31 December 2011. Operating profits fell 58% to £2m. The firm said the rise in sales “brought a series of operational challenges during the year that ultimately impacted on our operating profit”. “We view the challenges experienced as one-off in nature, and we continue to invest in both or people and our processes in order to drive the business forward. “During the year, Aston Manor was also affected by significant increases in raw material prices.” The company said raw material cost inflation “continues to be a key challenge facing the cider industry during 2011 and whilst we are not immune to these pressures, we continue to exert tight control over these costs”. “Revenue continues to grow in the first half of 2012, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years. This, combined with our continuing programme of long term investment into our people, processes and plant, gives the directors great optimism for the business results in 2012 and beyond.” The firm said that based on its performance in the year and the board’s “confidence in the on-going strength of the company”, a dividend of £1m was paid in the year (2010: £5m).