London pubs are back to normal, Shepherd Neame . boss says

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Shepherd Neame CEO Jonathan Neame said it was “very difficult” to predict how much margins could suffer given the “extremely volatile” prices.

“It’s all completely dependent on energy,” he said.

The warning came as the Kent-based brewer, which operates 302 pubs in the Southeast, returned to profit and announced its first dividend since the start of the pandemic.

The Spitfire beermaker reported a £5.4 million profit in the 26 weeks to 25 December, compared with a £7.2 million loss in the same period a year earlier. Turnover rose 55% to £78.7 million.

Shepherd Neame announced an interim dividend of 3.5 pence per share, the first since October 2019.

The payout is 60% of the company’s last dividend. CEO Neame said he was “thankful to our shareholders for the support they have given us.”

Neame said London pubs are now “coming closer to normal”, adding: “All things being equal, I don’t see demand declining any time soon.”

Shaking off his concerns about the rising cost of living, he said: “Pubs have historically shown that they are remarkably resilient to inflation. People still want to go to the pub.”

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