Adnams, the Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator, has this morning warned of a slow start to its new financial year and of “tougher times” ahead. At its annual meeting with shareholders, the group said it had been hit by poor weather in the early months of the year, that the beer market had continued to decline and that consumers were being cautious “in the face of the impending general election and the expectation of tax increases”. It said: “Looking forward we see some tougher times. The year has started slowly for us.” The group intimated that although the sales performance of Cellar & Kitchen, its wine-led shop brand, was lower than the same time last year, it had managed to improve its return. Adnams said: “In our 2009 accounts we sounded a note of caution and our current expectation is that 2010 half-year profits will not reach those achieved in 2009. However, we also noted that we act and invest for the long term and we believe that our quality products and innovative approach will bring success. “2010 will bear witness to our innovation with two new projects. Firstly the coming on stream of the anaerobic digester that is being built on our site at Reydon and secondly the completion, expected towards the end of the year, of a micro-distillery in the old copper house in our brewery. “Whilst we may very probably see further economic turbulence this year we believe that Adnams continues to do the right things and remains optimistic about its future.”