Wells & Co, the family brewer and pub operator, grew sales in 2023 to £62.3m, but has seen a squeeze on costs.

Reporting numbers of the 52 weeks to October 2023, Wells & Co said high utility costs, inflation and bank interest rates have continued to supress consumer sentiment, making growth for the sector more challenging.

Operating profit before exceptional items decreased slightly to £3m (2022: £3,3m) due to increased costs around food inflation and payroll impacting margins.

EBITDA was up to £9.5m (2022: £8.7m), due to property disposal profits.

Wells sold one pub in France, and completed a sale and leaseback of another site in France, generating £1.8m, which will be reinvested into new acquisitions in France during first quarter of 2024.

The group’s net debt position including shareholder bonds is £35.2m.

As of September 2023, the group agreed a one year extension of its three year bank facilities with HSBC, which are now in place until 2026, with the option to extend for a further year.

The business plans to maintain debt levels in the region of 3.5 times annual EBITDA.

Wells is recommending a final dividend of £3.35, giving a total dividend for the year of £6.05.

Overall, the group posted profit after tax £985k and a total loss of £4.5m.