JW Lees, the Manchester-based brewer and pub operator, saw pre-tax profits fall 9% in the year to 31 March 2010, despite a slight increase in turnover from £50.1m in 2008-09 to £50.9m (writes John Harrington). Operating profit jumped from £2.8m to £3.9m, while profit before tax was £2.8m, down from £3.1m on the previous year when there were a number of disposals. There was also a small loss on disposals of £80,736 — while profits from disposals amounted to £792,531 during 2008-09. Company director William Lees-Jones said the 10 pubs bought from Punch Taverns in May 2009 “have been integrated successfully into the company’s managed house and tenanted divisions” and are producing “encouraging results”. The Punch purchase and that of the Trearddur Bay Hotel in Anglesey, along with improvements to its pubs, cost the company £13.7m in the financial year 2009-10. Lees-Jones said: “Trading conditions continue to be difficult, since the introduction of the smoking ban and have been compounded by poor weather in the last two summers, and the increasingly unfair beer duty escalator that was brought in by the last government.” Since the year-end the company has bought two pubs- one in Bury and once in Accrington - from the administrators of Mercury Taverns. The Board recommended no dividend be paid because there’s a need to “conserve the group’s resources”.