Adnams, the Suffolk-based brewer, pub operator and distiller, has reported a rise in pre-tax profit from £3.2m to £4.1m for the year to the end of 2013, while turnover increased 6.3% to £60.5m

The group reported an improvement in operating profit, finishing the year at £3.325m down just 2% on 2012, after seeing a 22% decline in the first half of the year.

Debt fell £3m to £10.8m during the year and the quantity of Adnams beer sold rose by 1.2%.

The company reported a 1.2% growth in beer volumes and a 6% increase in like-for-like turnover in its Cellar & Kitchen business.

Jonathan Adnams, chairman, said, “Despite a difficult start to 2013 due to adverse weather conditions and poor consumer confidence, we saw a much-improved second half to the year as the economy, and the weather, started to pick up. 2013 was a year of many achievements for Adnams with the introduction of new beers, our first whiskies and a number of prestigious awards across all areas of the business. I am delighted to announce that Adnams Triple Grain Whisky and Adnams Single Malt both picked up medals at the World Spirits Awards in San Francisco earlier this week. 2014 has started reasonably well for us and we believe that our long-term focus will help us to surmount the challenges that we will undoubtedly face.”

The group has recommended a final dividend for the financial year ending 31 December 2013 of 128% per share on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ Ordinary Shares. This amounts to GBP1.28 per ‘B’ share and 32p per ‘A’ share, unchanged on the previous year. The dividend will be paid on 1 May 2014 to the shareholders on the register at 11 April 2014.

The group sold four pubs in the year and another pub shortly after the year end. It also sold a former pub property more recently used as accommodation for its hotel staff. Profit on disposal of assets stood at £1.1m up from £267k the previous year.

The company said: “All the pubs that we have sold have been sold as going concerns, but we noted last year that there are inevitably some circumstances in which a pub is genuinely unviable and it would run counter to our values to encourage licensees to invest in a pub which offers no realistic chance of a profitable livelihood.”

The group said that market for regional hotels has been a difficult one and 2013 was another tough year for the Swan and Crown hotels in Southwold.

It said: “The poor weather in the first half of the year was undoubtedly a contributing factor, but consumer trends in relation to hotel visits are also a challenge and the cost of such visits is a relatively easy saving in harder economic times.”

In contrast it said that it shops business enjoyed a strong 2013.

Adnams said: “Whilst some stores have always done well we have started to see improvements in most of the estate. We believe that a focus on operations, cost savings and a good offer of Adnams products bodes well for the future. The store estate remained unchanged during the year except for the fact that we opened a pop-up shop in the Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich. This shop was open from September until the end of the year and traded very well. We will look at other such opportunities as and when they arise.”

The group’s 2014 AGM will mark a notable change in its board as Simon Loftus will be stepping down. Loftus has been with Adnams since 1968, was chairman from 1995 until 2006 and has been a non-executive director since then.

The company said: “He was at the heart of many of the changes seen at Adnams in recent years. He is well known to very many of our shareholders and also to many outside the Company and he will be particularly remembered for his leadership of the Adnams wine business. We are extremely pleased that Nicky Dulieu will join our board on 1st May 2014, and a resolution to appoint her is included in the AGM Notice. Nicky is in the process of standing down as Chief Executive of the fashion retailer, Hobbs where she has worked for eight years. Her previous career was at Marks & Spencer where she had a variety of roles, notably within finance. She lives in Norfolk and knows Adnams well. We are confident that she will be a most valuable addition to the board.”

Adnams said: “It is pleasing to see economic circumstances that are starting to look up after a number of years of squeezed living standards. I think, nonetheless, we need to temper that pleasure with caution regarding difficulties that may lie ahead and caution too regarding the specific challenges of the markets in which Adnams operates. The beer market, especially the free market in cask ale, and the pubs market have been particularly tough. It is perhaps notable in 2013 that we saw the greatest improvements from our more recent diversifications into shops and our distillery.”