The parent company of Sir John Fitzgerald, the north east-based pub and restaurant operator, saw pre-tax profits grow significantly from £14,146 to £156,050 in the year to 31 January but gave a downbeat assessment of the local trading environment.

Sir John Fitzgerald Holdings reported a marginal rise in turnover in the year, to £17.6m, saying that its trading performance “marginally improved” with a “slight increase in gross contribution”.

But it stated: “It may be some time before the north east, our trading area, feels more affluent and shows it by going out more.

“The company will continue to invest in the business and its workforce in anticipation of improving time.”

Operating profits in the year for the c20-strong group grew from £97,897 to £218,343. Staff costs rose from £6.6m to £6.9m, although staff numbers increased by just one to 529.

Sir John Fitzgerald operates a range of drink and food led venues across the north east including three under its Fitzgeralds brand. Its sites include the high profile Café Royal cafe/bistro in central Newcastle.