By Razak Musah Baba

LONDON--Despite a challenging U.K. economy, Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC (FSTA.LN) is ready for the end-of-year festivities, the chief executive of the pubs firm and brewer said Friday.

Speaking on a telephone interview, Simon Emeny said that increases in business rates and the introduction of the National Living Wage, as well as uncertainty around the Brexit vote, has made trading tough.

The U.K government announced a new living wage of 7.20 pounds ($8.95) an hour, from GBP6.70, for people aged 21 years and over, which took effect from April.

However, Mr. Emeny said the company is well invested to perform welland that the falling value of the pound will make the U.K attractive to both foreign and local tourists who will eventually patronize pubs and hotels.

Mr. Emeny's comments come after Fuller's on Friday said its pretax profit during the 26 weeks ended Sept. 24, rose slightly to GBP21.4 million from GBP21.2 million in the same period a year earlier on revenue which rose 11% to GBP197.6 million from GBP177.7 million.

The half-year performance was helped by the Managed Pubs and Hotels unit and The Fuller's Beer Company, which more than offset weak trading at the Tenanted Inns division. The company runs 196 tenanted pubs and has the same number of managed pubs and hotels. The Chiswick, London-based brewer's portfolio of beers includes London Pride, Oliver's Island and ESB.

The company is investing to boost food sales and plans to sell around 10% of its tenanted pubs which under perform and can't be transformed, Mr. Emeny said.

In December 2015, Fuller's acquired a 51% stake in Nectar Imports, a wholesale drinks business. Fuller's said revenue from its Beer Company rose by 19%, reflecting the revenue contribution from Nectar Imports. The company plans to increase or gain total control of Nectar Imports in the next couple of years as part of Fuller's organic expansion strategy, Mr. Emeny said.

Fuller's shares at 1125 GMT traded down 10 pence or 1% at 980 pence, valuing the company at 541.3 million.

-Write to Razak Musah Baba at; Twitter: @Raztweet

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 18, 2016 07:26 ET (12:26 GMT)

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