Joule’s – the brewer and operator of 41 pubs - has restructured its senior team as it refocuses on brewing for its own estate adding two pubs a year.
Steve Nuttall is stepping down from his role as joint managing director but will remain with the company to manage the £1.8m development of Joule’s first new-build pub – in Stone, Staffordshire.
Mark Heappey is also stepping down from his role as chairman but will continue to meet with the board quarterly as Joule’s key strategic financial advisor.
Chrissie Nuttall will now continue as sole managing director and chairman. Meanwhile, the group has appointed Steve Burns – ex of Punch and Ei Group – as operations director and has promoted Jason Whittaker to commercial director.
Meanwhile, Joule’s reported a “satisfactory” trading year to the end of March 2018 – a period in which the company has continued to consolidate after a period of rapid growth.
It acquired two pubs during the year - The Shakespeare, Bridgnorth and the Market Vaults, Tamworth.
Operating profit exceeded £2m for a second year with a “modest increase” on the previous year of 3%.
The company has refocused during the year to concentrate on the core business of Joule’s Brewery Taps. Acquiring two pubs during the year, the estate now stands at 41 pubs all of which are trading at c3% up on the previous year, the group said.
Last year the company unveiled its biggest ever project with the acquisition of land in Stone, Staffordshire, the original home of Joule’s. The other notable transaction during the year was the purchase of the Joule’s brand from Molson Coors which was previously held under licence for a consideration of £500,000, which was paid in Q1.
In brewing and sales, the business has refocussed on producing beer styles for its own estate, and marketing activity is now focussed on Brewery Taps.
Free trade sales have reduced by 900 barrels as the business has successfully refocussed to support a smaller number of key free trade partner accounts, many where the company has provided financial support. This is planned as a long-term business unit.
Other pubs in the estate, unbranded pubs, are being rationalised with three pubs being sold in the year at a modest book value gain, with one further pub in the process of being sold.
On the outlook, the company said: “The business is well placed for the future with a strong balance sheet and freehold estate. The business benefits from being privately owned which allows all available cash to be re invested in the business. Joule’s plans to continue to acquire freehold pubs in its core trading area at the rate of 1 or 2 pubs a year which will be the focus for the business.
“Key risks have been widely highlighted in the sector, a disproportionally high tax regime, business rates in the pub sector are punitive, as is the tax treatment of vat on food versus other competitors. The company remains optimistic for the role of pubs in society and for real world interaction, though occasion types and product requirements are changing rapidly in a very fluid market.