Pub and brewery business Camerons is set to open new venues this year following a “transformational” year in which a major acquisition triggered turnover growth of 11.4%.
Following the recession the Hartlepool firm focussed on reducing debt, a move which has seen the company lower its debt by £4.2m in the period from April 29 2013 to May 4 2014, putting the company on a firm footing.
Sales increased from £54.3m to £60.5m, the majority of which – £55.4m – came through its brewery and associated activities.
An investment program is now under way as part of a clear five-year growth strategy, which will this year include a £1m investment into a new bottling plant at its Teesside base, as well as the opening of new pubs.
Financial director John Foots said the company now has a solid base from which to grow its three core pillars of brewing, brands and pubs.
He said: “These are exciting times for Camerons and we’re trying to grow across all three of our main pillars.
“As part of that strategy we’re investing £1m into a bottling plant at the Hartlepool headquarters and opening three new pubs by Easter.”
Founded in 1865 as a family business, Camerons has established itself as one of the UK’s leading contract brewers, as well as operating a portfolio of 72 pubs in the North East.
The company brews its popular Strongarm Ruby Red Ale, Trophy Special and several other beers which are outsourced for blue chip customers, and said that new brands are set to be introduced this year.
Customers are now enjoying traditional cask ales, craft beers and world lager at the firm’s renowned Head of Steam pubs, after Camerons acquired the Newcastle firm, in a deal overseen by UNW and Watson Burton, in December 2013.
Eight pubs were acquired in the period, including the Head of Steam pubs, and since then three more have been opened under the Head of Steam banner in Sunderland, Whitby and Leeds.
Meanwhile, a program to dispose of its unprofitable pubs is almost at an end.
In accounts filed at Companies House the firm outlined how it is focussing on expanding its retail estate while continuing to invest in its core estate.
Five outlets were disposed of, generating a loss of £864,000 and a further seven have been identified for disposal which resulted in an impairment charge of £1.4m.
The accounts show operating profit dipped only slightly to £1.76m, but the firm recorded a loss for the financial period of £956,056 as a result of the impairment charge.
The acquisition significantly increased headcount at the business, from 145 staff to 243, a figure which will grow further when new pubs open this year.
Camerons finance director John Foots said: “We continue to grow our managed estate which is now 13 strong following the Head of Steam acquisition, which included seven outlets, and have subsequently opened sites in Sunderland, Leeds and Whitby.
“We’re looking to expand our managed estate and expect to have a further three by Easter, taking us up to 16, with new sites expected to open in Sunderland, Newcastle and Thirsk.
“I can’t be specific on locations yet but we’ll have more news soon.
“We’re also largely through our disposal program in the tenanted and headed division where we now have 59 outlets and within our own brands we have created some exiting new brands to add to our portfolio in 2015. We’ve got a great business and a great platform to grow from.”