Fuller Smith & Turner, the West London family-owned brewer and pub owner, delivered what it called "reassuringly good results in a difficult year for the industry" this morning, as pre-exceptional profits climbed 10% to £16.4m for the year to March 29 after turnover rose 4% to £137.6m.

A lack of property loses and impairments this year compared to last meant post-exceptional profits before tax, at £17.0m, were 74% higher than last year's £9.8 million.

Fuller's said that although difficult trading conditions, particularly in the City of London, continued to affect results at its managed pubs and bars, with like for like sales down by 1.7%, it had still increased gross margins in the division by focusing on quality and service.

In the tenanted division, average profit per house was up 7%, with average turnover up 4%, "reflecting the improving quality of the estate", with total profits are up 9% in spite of a marginal decrease in the number of pubs

In total, Fuller's Inns' turnover rose by 3% to £97m, with normalised profit up 5% to £16m. The destination food business, English Inns, saw total like for like sales rise 4%.

Fuller's growing hotels operation saw turnover up 31% "in a challenging market", with revenue per available room up 11% to £44.19, like-for-like sales up 3% and like-for-like profits up 4%.

In the brewing division, which makes the second biggest-selling cask ale in Britain, London Pride, profits were up 18% and own beer volumes rose 6%. Sales outside the tied estate were now over 84% of own beer sales, with London Pride now selling more than 150,000 barrels a year.

While many companies were cutting back on investment, the company had started an extensive refurbishment programme across its estate, Fuller said, which "will leave us in a strong position to benefit when economic conditions improve". Eight major refurbishments in the year saw sales at those pubs increase 22% since their reopenings and continue to grow. All the same, total capital expenditure for the year dropped 54% to £12m from £26.2m.

The company said its share buy-back programme, which had reduced the number of ordinary "A" shares in circulation by 10%, had added 2.12p to earnings per share, calculated on the £1 "A" share, and it intended seeking shareholder approval for a further buy-back of both "A" and "B" shares. The average price the company paid to buy back its shares during the year was £4.62, "a considerable discount to our net assets per share," Fuller said. Share buy-backs were "a significantly more attractive investment proposition for shareholders, especially when compared to the present substantial under-valuation of our own assets and what we consider to be an overpriced market for new freehold and leasehold properties," he said.

He said trading in the early weeks of the current financial year had been "satisfactory taking into account the impact of a late Easter".