This year’s overseas trip was to The Duchy of Luxembourg – from Thursday 9 November to Tuesday 14 November 2017.
This was my first visit to the 2017 Shepherd Neame AGM and my first visit to Faversham.
The AGM was held at The Parish Church of St Mary of Charity, close to the brewery and was well attended with over 200 shareholders present.
The Chairman reported that the company had had a good year, underlying profits had increased from £139.9m to £156.2m and the dividend had been increased from 27.5p to 28.35p per share.
The Chairman and Chief Exec gave presentations outlining the company’s strategy and explaining how this was reflected in the results.
During the year, the company acquired eight new freehold pubs from Ei Group plc (previously known as Enterprise Inns) and a further five freehold pub restaurants by the purchase of Village Green Restaurants Ltd. Fifteen pubs were disposed of, meaning the company now has 327 pubs. Beer volumes increased by 3.9%.
The company has broadened its beer portfolio, with a range of premium keg and bottles beers added to the range.
Shareholders then asked questions on a number of issues, including: • Availability of the bottled beers away from the company’s heartland; • Gearing of the balance sheet; • Health and safety; • Board succession planning;
After questions, the formal resolutions were put to the meeting and all passed on a show of hands.
Following the meeting, shareholders went to the brewery, where a buffet lunch was provided and a range of the company’s ales were available to sample.
Ian Brindley – CMIC Committee member
The Young’s AGM was held as usual at Wandsworth Town Hall with the Shire horses and dray parked outside.
Stephen Goodyear opened the meeting and reported there had been a very good start to the current year with managed house sales up 8.6% on a like for like basis for the first thirteen weeks . This was helped by the dry, warm weather in April and the hottest June for over forty years, with riverside pubs and those with gardens particularly benefitting.
Four acquisitions had been made last year and contracts exchanged for a further pub which is scheduled to open in September. Three tenanted pubs have been transferred to the Managed Estate. He added that the sector is facing a number of challenges with the increased business rates, the National Living Wage and apprenticeship levy but was confident that Young’s will continue to outperform the sector.
A particular mention was made of the bravery shown by staff at the Wheatsheaf, Borough Market and the Bunch of Grapes at London Bridge during the recent terror attacks and that the company was fully supporting the members of staff injured in the attack. This received a round of applause by those present.
As usual there were a number of questions from the floor including one asking about whether the sale of the Eagle Brewery at Bedford to Marstons would have any effect on Young’s Brewery. Stephen Goodyear replied that he has every confidence in Marstons and that Young’s still own the brand and that no changes can be made to their beers without Young’s agreement.
After the meeting there was time for some hospitality at the bar with a plentiful supply of Young’s Bitter and Waggledance plus a chance to speak to the directors on a one to one basis.
Chris Excell – CMIC Committee member
A visit to Jennings in Cockermouth took place on Tuesday 25th April.
The second trip of the year to the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh.