Young’s, the London brewer and pub operator, has this morning unveiled uninvested like-for-like sales growth of 1.2% in its 116-strong managed house arm. On an invested basis, like-for-like sales were ahead at 4.7% for the 52 weeks to 29 March, 2008. The group, led by chief executive Stephen Goodyear, said its strong performance during the year – ebitda grew 40.9% to £32.3m on sales up 6.6% to £122.1m – came against the backdrop of very testing market conditions for the industry. In the eight weeks since its year-end the company said managed house like-for-like sales growth was 1.6% on an uninvested basis – on top of 9% growth last year – and up 3.4% on an invested basis. During the year, the group grew operating profits at its managed house arm 19.7% to £26.8m on sales up 8.1% to £106.6m. Average ebitda per pub on a same outlet basis before rent increased 9.3%. Food sales now accounted for 25.4% of the managed house mix, up 1.8 percentage points. On a like-for-like basis, food sales rose more than 10%. During the period, Young’s spent £26.6m on acquisitions and £9.4m improving the existing estate. Pubs purchased included the Cock & Hen at Fulham, the Mitre at Lancaster Gate and the Marlborough at Richmond. It said that it had seen signs that the market for pubs was easing. It was now halfway through an investment programme to upgrade its 351 hotel rooms. 67 rooms were upgraded, helping to drive RevPar up 4.7% to £42.04. At its tenanted arm, which comprises 103 pubs, revenue rose just under 1% despite like-for-like declines of about 2.0%. The company spent a £2.7m on projects in the estate. Wells & Young’s, the brewing joint venture with Charles Wells, contributed £1.7m to adjusted pre-tax profits, in line with expectations. Young’s endured a £1.16m impairment charge against the value of some none-core, high alcohol lager brands. Peter Whitehead, finance director, said: “As with any business, you put all resources behind the growth elements and unfortunately you have to write down your poor performers. It is a non-cash item.” Whitehead said that the company could comfortably add a further £150m to its debt, which was currently at just 1.5 times its annual ebitda, with interest cover of 4 times. Goodyear told M&C: “I am very pleased with the performance. We have a strategy of building and maintaining a premium position and that seems to be working very well for us. “It is undoubtedly tough out there and I suspect there will be some pain, particularly in some of the big leased estates, but our business is performing well.” At a pre-tax level, profits rose 23.8% to £10.8m. Basic earnings per share was up 32.1% to 13.67p.