The firm now says it expects its full-year results to be below expectations. Sales in the four weeks over Christmas and new year fell five percent compared with the same period in 2019 before Covid struck.
Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “While ongoing strike action will dampen sales, demand from customers remains good and we are optimistic that 2023 will deliver further growth through a busy calendar of events as office workers and tourists continue to return to the capital.”
Pubs and restaurants are grappling with rising costs for everything from labour and food ingredients to energy, at a time when punters are cutting down on spending amid a cost-of-living crunch.
Mr Emeny added: “We are operating in a high inflation environment and that continues to impact our operating costs and margins.
“While some of the costs may be temporary in nature, others – such as the national living wage increase – are more permanent and we are focused on taking action to mitigate these. Although strike action and the cost-of-living crisis create short-term hurdles to our post-pandemic recovery, we remain confident in the resilience of the pub and future opportunity for Fuller’s.”
Sales for the four-week Christmas and New Year period were up by 38 percent on last year, when trade was hit by Covid restrictions and work-from-home guidance.
In its last full-year results before Covid struck, Fullers reported sales of £333million and pre-tax profits of £166.2million. Fuller’s, based in Chiswick, west London, has almost 400 pubs, mainly in the south of England with more than 40 percent within the M25.
In 2019 it sold its historic brewing business – best known for London Pride ale – in a deal with Japanese drinks giant Asahi in order to focus on pubs and hotels.
Russ Mould, investment director at broker AJ Bell, said: “With more train strikes on the cards, there is little that Fuller’s can do apart from hope there is an imminent resolution to the fight over transport worker pay.”