DORSET’S Hall & Woodhouse brewery saw turnover and operating profits rise after a hot summer in 2018 helped drive people to its pubs.

The 242-year old business reported that turnover for the year ending January 26, 2019, was up 4.3 per cent to £114.8m.

Ongoing profit on ordinary activities was up by a hefty 17 per cent to £7m.

The final profit figure was down on the previous year, when the disposal of the old brewery in Blandford helped deliver a £3.2million boost from property sales.

With exceptional items wiping £1m from the balance sheet, pre-tax profit on ordinary activities fell 35 per cent to £6m and profit after tax was down 41 per cent to £4.49m.

Mark Woodhouse, chairman at the time the accounts were compiled, said: “Although we continue to face significant cost headwinds across a number of areas within the business, we have mitigated a large proportion of these costs through a number of efficiency initiatives.

“The year has delivered a very strong performance from both our managed house and business partnership estates. This is set against a backdrop of the continued legislative headwinds countered by the excellent summer weather that delivered top line growth.”

The brewery’s "off-sales" business, dominated by its Badger beer range, performed “in line with strategy”, whilst its new soft drink brand Rio “performed very strongly aligned to our sugar tax strategy and the good summer weather”.

Mark Woodhouse stood down as chairman at the company’s annual general meeting earlier this year, to be replaced by his cousin Anthony Woodhouse.

Matt Kearsey, who has been with the company as a decade, has taken over from Anthony Woodhouse as the managing director.

The rise in profit was mentioned by Anthony Woodhouse when the change in boardroom posts was announced earlier in the year.

He said then: “With underlying group profits up 17 per cent despite last year’s challenging trading conditions, a brilliant team in place and a clear strategy for the future, I am confident that we will have plenty to celebrate at our 250th birthday in 2027.”

The brewery invested £13.7m in its assets during the year.

It employed an average of 215 people at its Blandford brewery and 1,216 in its managed pubs, broadly level with last year.

Pay and benefits to directors amounted to £2.3m. The company gave £125,621 to charity.

It is responsible for two defined benefit pension schemes – one for Hall & Woodhouse and its subsidiaries and one for former employees of King & Barnes, which it acquired in 2000. It saw a £621,000 actuarial loss relating to pension liabilities.